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Tonight's great opportunity

August 31, 2004

Tonight the members of the Hagerstown Council and the Washington County Commissioners will meet in joint session to discuss a number of matters.

None will be more important than the report delivered by Councilmen Kristin Aleshire and Lew Metzner and Commissioners Doris Nipps and James Kercheval.

For months the four have been meeting privately in an attempt to serve a number of longstanding issues including taxes, development and annexation policy.

Given what's happened in the last few years, the fact that the four have been able to get this far is amazing and a credit to their persistence and public-spiritedness. We hope their colleagues will give their proposed solutions a fair hearing.

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Without cooperation, this county will continue to waste time and money on trying to win disputes, instead of exploring methods to cooperate on making meaningful progress.

On economic development, the county faces a situation in which every potential client in certain areas may or may not have to agree to pay city taxes. That sort of uncertainty is not what potential clients want. And many may opt to avoid it by bypassing this area altogether.

On the sewer issue, the city's plant, which serves some development in the county, is rapidly running out of capacity, while the county's Conococheague plant has capacity to spare. Both governments need to work on an exchange of flows, or watch development grind to a halt.

On these and other issues, the solutions proposed by the four who've been meeting will not be perfect, but in a negotiation, perfection cannot always be achieved, at least not on the first go-round.

We're not asking those who weren't involved in the talks to abdicate their responsibility to review these proposals. But a knee-jerk reaction to oppose them wouldn't be right either.

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