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Letters to the editor 1/5

January 06, 2003

Hagerstown needs a party



To the editor:


We have recently moved out here from Frederick and we were looking for some activity in Hagerstown for New Year's Eve, and couldn't find any family things to do.

It is either parties for teen-age kids or out to the bars for adults, but nothing for families. In Frederick they have a party in the park with local bands and activities for kids, and then fireworks at midnight. Why doesn't Hagerstown do this?

What does the city do with the Suns' baseball park during the winter?

This would be a great place to have an alcohol-free party for families on New Year's Eve and they could have fireworks at midnight. The event wouldn't have to cost attendees much in the way of admission - $5 to $10 per person above 5 years old. Just a suggestion for next year.

Ed O'Bryan

Hagerstown




Comments were not a call to raise taxes



To the editor:


In a letter on Dec. 29, Carl Fulmor shares his concerns about Citizens for Protection of Washington County, the building moratorium and my statement to the Board of County Commissioners. The information Fulmor quoted from the commissioners' meeting minutes were not my words, but were instead a very condensed and paraphrased version of what I had said.

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It was a three-minute speech condensed into two sentences which came out a bit distorted. Furthermore, on that day, I was speaking as a citizen, not as a CPWC representative. At their Dec. 17 meeting, the County Commissioners had been discussing the idea of levying a tax or impact fee on new development. The CPWC and many others have grown tired of watching developers steamroll their way across Washington County, paying little or nothing toward solving the problems they create, while generally getting a nod and a handshake from our county government.

CPWC has unsuccessfully lobbied the commissioners to impose an excise tax on new development - impact fees are too complicated to administer - but the commissioners continue to favor their original idea of a transfer tax; a 1 percent tax on all real estate sold in Washington County, old and new properties alike. The commissioners' reasoning is that the transfer tax is preferable to an excise tax because it would be spread over a larger group of people and would bring in more money.

My statement to the County Commissioners was, "Why should buyers of old real estate be taxed to recover costs incurred by new development? If your primary purpose is to put more money into the general fund and to spread the pain, then maybe you should consider raising everyone's property tax first and then look at another way to tax new construction."

I made that statement just to make a point in my argument, not as a request for property taxes to be increased. Your County Commissioners are intelligent people. They realize that raising property taxes would be political suicide and they will only do it as a last resort.

Fulmor's concerns for the building moratorium are unfounded. He mistakenly believes that the moratorium will stop all development in Washington County, bring down the economy, drive hordes of people out and raise his property taxes. In reality, this moratorium will hardly be noticed.

Building can continue on the 6,000 lots that already have planning commission approval, in all areas of the county. New subdivision approval will continue in all Urban Growth Zones, and subdivisions of less than six homes will be approved in rural areas. Building can also start immediately on any new subdivision that is approved. Some of the high rollers of the world may have to wait another year to make their next million but the local plumbers, electricians, and drywall hangers will be fully employed and your bank account will be safe from the tax man.

So, Mr. Fulmor, you can relax now.

Jim Laird

Hagerstown

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