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Commissioners say they weren't told of plan for new room

October 05, 2000

Commissioners say they weren't told of plan for new room



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


Three Washington County Commissioners said Thursday they were not told of county plans to spend $325,000 to build a meeting room at a county annex building that is less than two blocks from an existing meeting room at the County Administration Building.

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But County Administrator Rodney Shoop said the plan was shared with the commissioners and the money was in the capital program budget, which the commissioners approved.

The county's proposed 6-year capital program contains $1.6 million for downtown expansion, including $325,000 for construction, he said.

Commissioners William J. Wivell, Paul L. Swartz and John L. Schnebly said they don't recall discussing or voting on funding for a building addition.

"They did not tell us they were planning on building a meeting room," Wivell said. "I don't think we need to spend $325,000 to add a meeting room."

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Schnebly said he would vote against a building addition if the matter came to a vote.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook and Commissioner Bert L. Iseminger could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

In March, the commissioners voted 4-1 to buy the 12,500-square-foot Farmers & Merchants Bank building near downtown Hagerstown for $1.125 million. Wivell voted against the purchase, saying it was not necessary for the county to expand into another building.

The 1.45-acre property that will serve as the annex includes the one-story bank property, which had been a Community Supermarket, and 107 parking spaces.

Wivell and Swartz said the commissioners were told the building was ready for use without external construction work.

They said they were surprised Wednesday when they read a newspaper story that quoted Public Works Director Gary Rohrer as saying the county plans to build a $325,000 addition, which would include a meeting room.

The 3,000-square-foot addition would serve as a meeting room for the Washington County Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals, Rohrer and Shoop said. It may also have additional undetermined uses, Rohrer said.

Those meetings are held in the County Administration Building but the planning, public works, engineering and permits and inspections departments are moving to the new building.

The Administration Building's meeting room can accommodate only 12 people and is not large enough for planning or zoning meetings, he said.

The commissioners could also have their quarterly meeting with the Planning Commission in the proposed meeting room instead of at the courthouse, Shoop said. The building has more parking than the County Administration Building, he said.

The building is being referred to as the County Administration Building Annex, but that is not its permanent name, Shoop said.

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