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Council members criticize idea of government merger

April 30, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN, MD. - During Tuesday's Hagerstown City Council work session, council members Kristin B. Aleshire, N. Linn Hendershot and Penny May Nigh criticized the idea of merging the city and county governments.

Del. Robert McKee, R-Washington, on April 22 suggested the idea deserved study.

A majority of the Washington County Commissioners - William J. Wivell, James F. Kercheval and Doris J. Nipps - interviewed the next day, agreed it should be considered.

McKee's comment last week to members of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce generated a debate that some said was necessary in light of the ongoing legal battle between the governments over water, sewer and annexation issues.

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But Nigh had a different take.

"Do you want the bunch who is suing us to run us too?" she asked the council audience. "I am really upset about this."

Aleshire said it is "ridiculous" to even consider the idea.

Hendershot said the proposal could be beneficial if it sparks dialogue but he does not support a government study of the idea. There have been too many government studies already in recent years, he said.

"We're suffering from paralysis from analysis," Hendershot said.

Disagreements between the two government bodies have reached the point where it is time to consider other solutions, such as a merger, McKee said.

City and county officials said last week that negotiations over a controversial city annexation policy have stalled, at least temporarily, increasing the possibility the county could lose a $650,000 state grant.




Discussion:

Single Government For Washington County?

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