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Metzner: Use hospital's numbers

August 04, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - One Hagerstown City Council member said he would like to see information provided by Washington County Hospital officials used as leverage against them.

Washington County Health System officials and their supporters have said the city could benefit financially from taxes that would be gained from new development at the hospital's current site on East Antietam Street and near the proposed site off Robinwood Drive.

The health system owns and operates the hospital.

In partly tongue-in-cheek and partly serious comments during Tuesday's City Council work session, Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said city officials should stop worrying about trying to calculate their own versions of the financial projections, and instead embrace the hospital's projections.

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Drawing laughter from city officials in the audience, Metzner said he would endorse the hospital's latest plans - which have yet to be submitted for state review - if hospital officials would guarantee dollar figures used to support arguments in favor of the move.

"Let 'em put it in writing and guarantee it," Metzner said. "They guarantee that, (and) I'm over on their side."

Metzner said those estimates provided by the hospital totaled about $66 million in a one-time payment, and another $4.4 million annually after that.

The money could be used to pay for other projects connected to the move, such as water and sewer extensions for the hospital and a proposed housing development that would be near the hospital site, Metzner said.

"Just give me the $66 million, we'll take care of it real fast."

Health system spokeswoman Maureen Theriault said James Hamill, health system president and CEO, was out of town and unavailable for comment Tuesday evening.

Metzner's comments came after he said he would not vote to discuss hospital issues in private session. He then read portions of a memo describing a set of meetings that were held in July between city and hospital official.

Metzner said the memo said "neither meeting produced any significant progress," and the two sides could not come to agreement over zoning or plans to build a bridge over Antietam Creek.

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