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Munson skips Md. counties meeting

August 16, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Commissioner John C. Munson chose not to join four Washington County Commissioners and other county officials who spent three days this week attending government seminars in Ocean City, Md.

Munson said he opposed going to the Maryland Association of Counties annual summer convention, which began Thursday, because taxpayers shouldn't pay for costs that include registration and lodging.

"I don't agree with spending county money for MACO meetings," Munson said. "If you want to go, you should pay your own way. I don't care who you are."

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The conference ends today.

Munson said that while the convention may provide a lot of information to county officials, "If it costs the county money, I'm not going."

He said the cost of the trip per county official depends on the hotel in which they.

Munson said Commission President Gregory I. Snook; Commission Vice President William J. Wivell, Commissioners James F. Kercheval and Doris J. Nipps; County Administrator Rodney Shoop; and Public Works Director Gary Rohrer attended the MACO convention.

MACO holds two conventions a year; the other one is in the winter.

Snook said Friday by phone from the convention that Munson "doesn't really have any idea what MACO does."

"John doesn't have a clue about what goes on down here," Snook said. "For him to make a comment, it's unfortunate."

Snook, Wivell and Nipps said Friday the convention allows the commissioners to learn about what is going on elsewhere in the state and bring back new ideas on how to improve the county. They also said they build relationships with other public officials.

Snook, for example, said he had a conversation with Gov. Robert Ehrlich about matters affecting the county.

"It's very valuable for Washington County," Snook said.

Some of the topics county officials heard about included growth and development, technology available to local governments and electronic government - an issue the commissioners have been working on to make county functions and issues more accessible to the public.

Snook also said he has not charged the county with any expenses related to the MACO events in the last 10 years. He said he attends the conventions with his wife and family.

"That's all on my bill, and the county does not pay one cent of that," Snook said.

Wivell said last winter's session was the only time he charged his hotel tab to the county; he usually only charges the conference's registration to the county. He said registration costs about $235.

"I pay everything else myself," Wivell said.

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