Snook: State of county is steady

February 06, 2003|by TARA REILLY

Washington County's economy remained stable throughout 2002, despite a downturn in the state and federal economies, County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook told local business leaders Wednesday morning.

Snook said the county's achievements this past year include receiving high bond ratings and the creation of 1,000 new jobs. And, he said, the county's tax base increased 4.5 percent.

"While the rest of the nation's economy changed, Washington County has remained steady..." said Snook.

Snook's comments came in the annual State of the County address at an event hosted by the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel on Dual Highway in Hagerstown. The gathering was sponsored by Allfirst.


Snook said the county faces state funding cuts for the upcoming budget year. As a result, he said, balancing the county government's budget will be more than the usual challenge.

The county expects to have $11 million in cash reserves by July, Snook said. Some of that reserve might have to be used to help pay expenses in the next year, he said.

The new fiscal year begins July 1.

The county government probably will have a 2 percent increase in revenue this year, he said. That's about $2 million to $3 million in new money, he said.

The county would use revenue from an excise tax and a transfer tax to pay future public safety and education expenses, agricultural land preservation and debt reduction if it receives permission from the Maryland General Assembly, Snook said.

He also listed seven priorities for the next four years. Those are:

  • Making county operations more efficient.

  • Promoting economic development.

  • Putting in place strategic and financial planning.

  • Encouraging partnerships with the county Board of Education, Hagerstown Community College and the future University System of Maryland Hagerstown education center.

  • Getting a new emergency communications system, which is expected to cost roughly $15 million.

  • Revising county planning ordinances to align with the Comprehensive Plan.

  • Developing water and sewer business plans for the Conococheague Waste Water Treatment Plant and the Nicodemus Plant.

In addition to Snook, Commissioners Jim Kercheval, John Munson and Dori Nipps attended. Commissioners Vice President Bill Wivell was in Annapolis.

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