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City in tight financial state

March 05, 2003|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown's tough financial situation and the future of the Hagerstown Suns were among the topics Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner discussed at Tuesday's State of the City Address.

Breichner said Old Man Winter's rebellion led to the city being more then $160,000 over budget for snow removal as of Feb. 26. The city's snow removal budget was $310,000.

The city's reserve fund will help cover the extra cost, Breichner said.

The city's estimated deficit for the upcoming budget year has ballooned from $1.2 million to $2 million because of state service fee increases and state cuts in highway user funds that are distributed to local governments, Breichner said.

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Breichner's State of the City Address at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center at Antietam Creek included a video and speech.

His speech was followed by few questions from the audience of approximately 170 people.

When someone asked about the Suns, Breichner said he met with a representative of the new owner.

Indications were Mandalay Sports Entertainment officials expect the Suns to remain in Hagerstown for at least two years, Breichner said.

Mandalay spokesman Kevin Mortesen of Wills Communications said the lease for Municipal Stadium runs through the 2003 season.

Mandalay and city officials have discussed extending the lease, but Mortesen would not say for how much longer.

Breichner said Mandalay's representative was candid about wanting a new stadium. Breichner said that was a key point in Mandalay officials' willingness to stay in the community.

Mortesen said no decision has been made about whether the Suns would remain in Hagerstown without a new stadium.

"We haven't gotten into the stadium issue yet with the city," Mortesen said.

Andrew Rayburn announced Dec. 5 that he was selling the Suns to Mandalay. The South Atlantic League's owners have approved the sale.

Minor League Baseball has yet to approve the sale, league spokesman Jim Ferguson said.

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