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Payoff mandate request removed

September 28, 2000

Payoff mandate request removed



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook has pulled from a list of legislative requests a controversial proposal that a mandate to pay off the water and sewer debt be lifted.

That item will not be on the agenda for discussion at today's joint meeting with state lawmakers.

Snook said he did not want to proceed with the request since it did not have the unanimous support of the commissioners.

"I think the appropriate action has been taken by removing it from the agenda," Washington County Commissioner William J. Wivell said.

Wivell not only opposed the request but sent a letter to delegation members calling the request premature and inappropriate. The request was broached with the delegates at a meeting in late July before the commissioners had discussed it.

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The mandate, which takes effect Saturday, requires the county to spend $500,000 annually in general fund contributions on water, sewer and pretreatment debt. It was passed during the last legislative session.

The county has subsidized the Water and Sewer Department by $14.05 million, including more than $2 million this year, since taking over the Washington County Sanitary District in 1994.

The request was one of 15 discussed at Tuesday's meeting of the County Commissioners.

Snook said at that time that he would not pursue having the mandate lifted if the proposal did not have the support of all the commissioners.

Commissioner Bert L. Iseminger said even though he may oppose the request, he thought it should be discussed with the delegation members at today's meeting.

Later that day, though, Snook told County Attorney Richard Douglas to remove that request from the list on today's agenda, Douglas and Snook said.

Wivell disagreed with the argument by County Administrator Rodney Shoop that the mandate limits the county's financial future and can hinder county efforts to improve the county's bond rating.

The county's debt and the subsidies are the problem, not the mandate to pay down the debt, Wivell said.

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