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Commissioners discuss tax rebate with Smithsburg Town Council

January 22, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG - The Washington County Commissioners visited Smithsburg Town Hall on Tuesday to discuss the town's property tax rebate and several projects under way.

Smithsburg will receive $52,591- a nearly 9 percent increase from the $48,306 received in fiscal 2002, Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said.

The money will be included in the town's general fund to help pay for municipal services, Town Manager Betsy Martin said.

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The rebate, known as tax setoff money, partially reimburses municipalities for police, parks and road services. The tax setoff is calculated based on population, assessable tax base and taxable income.

Smithsburg's population grew by 76 percent between the 1990 and 2000 U.S. Census. The town had about 1,221 people in 1990 and 2,146 in 2000.

To better serve the town's burgeoning population, a group of concerned citizens are raising funds to build a new branch library on two acres in the town's Veterans Park. Smithsburg Library Board President Judith Ferro and Treasurer Lynn Shaw on Tuesday discussed the status of the library project with the County Commissioners.

Friends of Smithsburg Library has raised about $650,000 for the 10,000-square-foot library, which will cost at least $1 million, they said.

Smithsburg Councilman Jerome Martin gave the commissioners a light-hearted reminder about the $200,000 the county has pledged for the project when Snook commented on the bright green color of a flyer promoting an upcoming auction to raise library funds.

"That's the color of the money you're going to give us," Martin said.

The commissioners suggested that library supporters start soliciting for in-kind contributions - such as discounts on construction materials and masonry work - to help keep costs manageable.

The county will oversee the bidding process and manage construction of the new library, County Administrator Rodney Shoop said. It has not yet been decided whether the county will own the library building, but it is possible the county will assume ownership with the town contributing funds for building maintenance, Commissioner William J. Wivell said.

Library survey work should start soon, and construction could begin early next year, Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers said.

The Town Council will decide how the old stone library building, circa 1843, will be used, Myers said in response to Commissioner Doris Nipps' question about the old building's fate.

"It is dearly loved by the town," Myers said. "We can't do anything to that building or we might as well move out of town."

Myers also updated the commissioners on the status of Veterans Park, which she said is slated to open this spring with pavilions, two playgrounds and a multipurpose field. The town has requested state Program Open Space funds for a park road extension, Myers said.

That money might be hard to secure due to a tight state budget, Commissioner James Kercheval said.

"I can't say it's bright and cheery," he said.

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