Letters to the editor

March 03, 2005

Close to the truth, but ...

To the editor:

I read with great interest, and some dismay, the letter submitted by Tom Immer in Sunday's Opinion section. Immer is correct on some issues, although all his facts weren't exactly accurate.

Take for instance the University System of Maryland. He is correct that another public building brings no additional tax revenue in and of itself. I would suggest that Immer take a stroll around downtown and see just what is happening and investigate what lies down the road. The university is not a moneymaker on it's own, but the residual effect of restoring a dilapidated city-owned building is just now being realized.

The Dog House restaurant that recently opened and the opening of The Square Cup Caf are two examples of small businesses that will bring in revenue. We have several developers who, until recently, would not even consider a project in downtown. Now, they are planning projects to enhance our center city. Only those individuals with limited vision can say that the university is just another public building.


Immer also suggests that the past and present administrations were not able to negotiate any meaningful revenue sharing between the city and the county. From the moment I assumed office in 1997, my ultimate goal for revenue sharing with the county was to find an amicable solution for the sharing of our city residents county taxes.

I cajoled and I negotiated. I begged and I pleaded from time to time. I brought forth documentation that showed where city residents were subsidizing county schools.

I broke down, line for line, the county budget and explained what our real share should be in tax rebates, but to no avail. The inability to realize fair and equitable revenue sharing is not a failure of past or present city administrations.

I spoke with Immer recently, and attempted to outline a plan to restructure our elective service area. Unfortunately, our conversation was cut short. We also talked briefly about a joint police department. I explained to Immer that the county and city police forces do two totally different jobs, and I explained who would lose if the two departments were to consolidate.

The county residents would see an enormous increase in their taxes, or else city residents would find a decreased level of service. Clearly, there is no winner there.

Immer is correct in stating that department heads should be held accountable for mistakes occurring in their departments that cause a negative impact on the city. Fortunately, the policy of the city is to handle personnel issues within the confines of City Hall. Those personnel issues are not public knowledge for obvious reasons.

On the selling, or overselling, of sewer capacity to the county, Immer is slightly confused. The city of Hagerstown must set aside sewer capacity for joint service lines that the city and county own together. That is part of a long-standing agreement that dates back many years. Development in areas with joint services is necessary for the continued success of the city and the county.

Immer is an educated and intelligent man. His knowledge and ability to pick apart problems and find solutions would be an asset to the city or the county. I would encourage him to submit his name to these two entities and be placed on a board where his expertise can be put to use. I would welcome him into a city board or commission any time.

Bob Bruchey

Don't flip over spatula remark

To the editor:

A single statement about a spatula in early January has sparked a lot of controversy. A lot of different rumors of turning Town Hall upside down have emerged.

First, let me assure you that every employee Williamsport houses are some of the hardest working employees in any municipality in the state of Maryland. The rumors that any town employee will be let go are completely absurd.

However, I do believe that our employees have not been used to the best of each one's own full potential. What I am proposing is mixing things up a bit to get a more efficient system and save the taxpayer money.

I believe in a system where each individual is as important as another, and can better adapt to his or her job in a much better way.

In other words, they know their particular job and they know what works and what doesn't. The efficiency of each position depends on each individual's ability to explore better ways to complete his or her job, ultimately saving the taxpayer money.

A lot of citizens have commented to myself, Monty Jones, Nelson Deal and Jeff Cline of the excessive amount of overtime they see on a week-to-week basis. Like every complaint we hear, as the Independents, we will listen and address accordingly.

Leaders must surround themselves with great, hardworking people who will not micromanage, but will allow each individual to get the job done. Not any one person can be effective if he takes on the task as mayor without great people, with the town at heart, surrounding him.

My party believes that the department heads (committees) should be allowed to do their own jobs, whether it was done that way in the past or not.

I believe in people and, as mayor, I know that any issue that arises will be treated with logic, common sense and a sense of urgency to solve the particular issue. Urgency, at this level of government where you see your neighbor every day, is very important. I hope, now, that we can open the drawer to put the spatula away and work hard to better our way of life in Williamsport.

I ask for your vote Monday, March 7, 2005. Thank you for your support.

James McCleaf II
Candidate for Mayor

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