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City, county to meet on sewer deal

July 03, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown City Council officials will meet with Washington County officials to try to find a compromise to a months-long dispute about a joint city-county sewer service agreement, Mayor William M. Breichner said Tuesday.

During a discussion at Tuesday's City Council meeting, Councilmen Lewis C. Metzner and N. Linn Hendershot said a compromise needs to be found.

"I think we are at loggerheads," Metzner said.

After the meeting, Breichner said he will probably suggest a joint city-county sewer committee meet to try to find a way to get the two parties to reach consensus on the agreements. The committee members include Breichner and County Commissioner John Schnebly.

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"We are looking forward to sitting down with whoever from the city that would like to talk," County Administrator Rodney Shoop said. "We are convinced that coming to an agreement is to the benefit of all the citizens of Washington County."

Shoop was not at the Tuesday council meeting.

The City Council and the County Commissioners voted for different versions of the agreement in October.

Both the city and county versions of the agreement would allow the two sewer systems to connect, something the county has been working toward for five years, Shoop said.

The previous version of the sewer service agreement, and the version adopted by the County Commissioners, states the city "shall" accept sewer flows from areas outside the city. That means the city cannot withhold sewer service from a property owner who wants to hook onto the city system.

But the City Council's version states the city "may" accept those sewer flows, which would give the city the ability to withhold sewer service from those who do not wish to be annexed.

Hendershot suggested City Attorney John Urner try to find some other language that would be agreeable to both bodies.

However, Metzner and others also noted that if an agreement cannot be reached soon, it might make more sense to wait until after the November general election.

All five County Commissioners seats are on the ballot. Four of the five current commissioners - all but Schnebly - are seeking re-election.

There are a total of 22 candidates for the five seats.

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