Building budget unveiled

February 14, 2004|by TARA REILLY

Washington County this week unveiled a tentative six-year, nearly $265 million construction budget that includes spending increases for the Board of Education and Hagerstown Community College and proposes several road projects in the Robinwood Drive area.

The proposed $264.9 million budget, known as the Capital Improvement Program (CIP), covers fiscal years 2005 to 2010.

County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said Friday the budget probably will be adjusted as the commissioners review it.

Commissioner John C. Munson took a harsher stand, saying he thought some projects in the CIP should be eliminated.

"I personally think we need to drop some of them this year and put more money into preparing the roads," Munson said. "I'm for dumping some of these projects."

Snook said he thinks the commissioners would make road projects and education the top priorities in the proposed construction spending plan.


While the budget states the School Board tentatively is set to receive the $10 million it asked for in fiscal year 2005, Munson said he didn't think it would receive that amount.

Munson said the School Board would get more than the county gave it for construction projects this fiscal year, but the commissioners' contribution in fiscal year 2005 probably would be less than $10 million.

The School Board asked the commissioners to increase their CIP contribution from $5.9 million to $10 million a year, citing an $80 million backlog in school construction needs.

HCC would receive $1.65 million in fiscal year 2005, up from the $265,140 it received in the current fiscal year, according to the proposed budget.

Munson said Washington County is in severe need of money to fix its roads, and that re-adjusting spending, delaying and eliminating some of the projects in the proposed CIP would help the county pay for road repairs.

"That's what the public sees, and the public doesn't like falling into potholes," Munson said.

Washington County received a 26 percent cut from the state in money for roads this fiscal year, and the fate of the state's contribution for fiscal year 2005 remains uncertain, Munson said.

Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell said the commissioners should reduce how much they borrow over the next several years since the county will be receiving new revenue through the recently enacted transfer and excise taxes and through fees that developers must pay toward road and school construction projects.

Munson said two ways to get money to improve the county's roads would be to scrap the Robinwood bypass project and the expansion of Robinwood Drive to four lanes.

The county's CIP states the bypass is needed to reduce traffic congestion from development in the area and increase traffic safety.

Munson said he's taken rides on Robinwood Drive during all times of the day and the stretch of the road in question isn't overly congested with traffic.

"It's a road going to nowhere," Munson said of the proposed bypass. "We need other things more than we need that."

Munson said the bypass would run through the properties of several residents, all of whom he's spoken with.

"They do not want their properties cut up," Munson said. "We don't need that road. It's a waste of money."

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