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Hospital would pay less for it's power in city, fact sheet says

August 07, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Washington County Hospital would pay about $200,000 less annually in electricity costs if it chooses the downtown Hagerstown site over two other possible locations, a fact sheet distributed by Hagerstown officials Tuesday night said.

If it moved outside the city limits, the hospital would have to pay more because it would become an Allegheny Energy customer, Hagerstown City Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire said. The hospital is now served by the Hagerstown Light Department.

The city wants the hospital to be built in a block bordered by East Franklin and East Washington streets, and Mulberry Street and North Cannon Avenue, Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner said.

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To meet the needs of a new hospital, the city said, a parking deck could be built on the block surrounded by Washington, Antietam and Mulberry streets and South Cannon Avenue.

Of the 68 properties on the two blocks, 10 are already owned by the Washington County Hospital, the fact sheet compiled by city officials said.

Of the 58 that would have to be acquired, 12 are occupied by the property owner, the city said. In the past, Breichner said the number of properties that would have to be acquired was 59.

Breichner has offered to waive about $2.3 million in one-time water and sewer charges for a new hospital if it is built at the downtown site.

Breichner and Aleshire said it is incorrect to describe forgiving the fee as a "waiver."

"This is not lost revenue. It is simply being transferred to the downtown site within the corporate limits," the fact sheet said.

A customer hooking up to the city's water and sewer systems must pay a one-time benefit charge based on the customer's average daily use of water. The hospital uses about 220,000 gallons of water a day, Breichner has said.

Based on the amount of water the hospital uses now, the benefit charge for the hospital if it moved would be $987,840, Breichner said.

The benefit charge for sewer service would be about $1.3 million, Breichner said.

The fact sheet also said the hospital's water rates would be 50 percent higher if it were built outside the city limits.

The other two possible hospital sites are Allegheny Energy's 450-acre Friendship Technology Park off Interstate 70 south of Hagerstown, and 230 acres of agricultural land east of Hagerstown Community College near the Robinwood Medical Center.

James Hamill, president and chief executive officer of Washington County Health System, the hospital's parent company, has said he expects a preferred site to be selected this summer, but that a decision on whether the system can afford a new hospital won't be made until next summer.

At its July 23 meeting, the Hagerstown City Council adopted by a 4-1 vote a resolution offering to use its power of eminent domain to forcibly take land to help the hospital, if it chooses the downtown site.

Councilwoman Penny May Nigh voted against the resolution.

Under eminent domain, a public agency takes land needed for a public project and pays the owner fair market value for the property. The owner can contest the attempt and take the matter to court.

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