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County seeks additional bonds

February 04, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Commissioners will ask the state for permission to issue an additional $20 million in bonds, in addition to the $50 million already approved to help fund the Hagerstown Airport runway expansion, county Budget and Finance Director Debra Bastian said Tuesday.

The commissioners were to go to Annapolis today to meet with members of the state legislative delegation.

"I'm guessing they'll approve it," said Commission President Gregory I. Snook. "It has to be voted on by the entire state delegation and then it becomes law. We aren't allowed to borrow money through bonds without state approval."

Last month, the commissioners submitted a request to the delegation for a new bond authorization, something that has to be done every four years, Snook said.

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The county asked for $50 million to fund roads, schools and bridges. That money typically would cover four years, but the airport project will require additional funding.

Washington County will need additional money to cover the cost of the $60 million dollar project, while the county waits to be reimbursed, Bastian said.

"This $20 million will be a short-term financing plan to cover the time it takes the feds and state to reimburse the county for the bills that we've already expended," said Commissioner James F. Kercheval.

"The Federal Aviation Administration will fund 90 percent (of the $60 million) and the state and county will both cover the remaining 10 percent," said Snook.

"We'll have to pay the bulk of the money up front which is why we're requesting the additional bonding authority," he said.

A bond is like a loan from the bond market and interest-earning bonds are sold to the public through bids.

Washington County taxpayers will foot the bill for $3 million, which will come directly from the general fund, which includes tax revenues from a variety of sources he said.

The Hagerstown runway will be expanded to 7,000 feet from it's current 5,450 feet. The work won't be completed until 2007.

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