County selflessly sues city to ward off lawsuits

November 21, 2002|by TIM ROWLAND

A good scrap ought to be developing between the Board of Education and the County Commissioners after the School Board announced its classroom computers were hopelessly out-of-date and need to be replaced to the tune of $1.5 million.

It seems that last time the machines were replaced, the kids were told, "Dude, you're gettin' a Smith-Corona."

Come now, you saw how the County Commissioners race broke down. You think they're going to spend $1.5 million? On computers? Way I see it, the only way the School Board has even a wisp of a chance is if they promise to outfit all the monitors with Ten Commandments screen savers.

Besides, the County Commissioners need to save all their money to pay the legal fees for all their pending litigation. Apparently, having grown bored with suing themselves, the commissioners turned their legal sights elsewhere and the first mammals that wandered into the scope happened to be Hagerstown City Council members.


Let me draw a breath and see if I can explain this to you in a way that makes any sense whatsoever.

Sewer and water services are cheaper in the city. Taxes are cheaper in the county. The Hagerstown Council believes that if you use city services, you should pay city taxes.

Naturally, developers want it both ways - the cheap taxes of the county and the cheap water of the city. Well, that's not fair, says the city. No pay, no spray.

You may be sitting there in your home or office asking yourself, "All right, but what do the County Commissioners have to do with all this?"

I'll tell you.

I don't know. They get the same amount of tax money either way. But something has their spirits in an uproar to the point that they would waste everyone's money by taking this to court.

Now you may be sitting in your home or office thinking, "Well it's obvious what is happening, the commissioners are getting their strings pulled by some developer who..." NO. This is not it, and I know so because the County Commissioners say this is not it.

They are suing, they say, to PROTECT THE CITY FROM BEING SUED.

There. Now that it's all clearly laid out in the open, doesn't it all make sense?

No lie. When this issue first came up, the commissioners said they didn't believe the city's annexation for-services-rendered ploy was legal, and that developers might file suit. So in the Animal House fashion of, "They can't do that to our pledges, only we can do that to our pledges," the county went to court.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or you may e-mail him at

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