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Legislative priorities outlined by City Council

November 02, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

A police booking facility, a school for the arts, a main highway improvement and operating money for a college campus should be funding priorities in 2006, city officials agreed Tuesday.

The Hagerstown City Council spent several minutes talking about what it wants most out of the 2006 Maryland General Assembly session.

The City Council is expected to create a more complete, definite list in the next few weeks.

Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire said the issues of importance can be broken down into "funding" and "policy." Under "policy," he mentioned an adequate public facilities ordinance and affordable housing as significant.

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Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said the council agrees that the top four funding issues are:

  • A new central booking facility at the Washington County Detention Center

  • Operating money for the University System of Maryland at Hagers-town campus downtown

  • A school for the arts on South Potomac Street

  • Improvements to Dual Highway at Edgewood Drive


City and county officials are scheduled to meet with the county's state delegation Dec. 2, City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said. Each year, in advance of the legislative session, municipal officials tell state representatives what issues matter most to them.

A month ago, the Washington County Commissioners and some county employees proposed ideas for the county's legislative list.

According to a summary by County Attorney Richard Douglas, they included letting the sheriff appoint more people as fire police, removing a one-year probationary period requirement for deputies and making child abuse a "crime of violence."

Aleshire said the county, operating with a commission structure of government, has to ask the state for permission for more specific actions than the city does.

Aleshire added that he doesn't agree with some items on the county's list, such as banning cell phone use while driving, "even with hands-free equipment."

A packet distributed to the City Council on Tuesday indicated that Maryland Municipal League has at least two of its own legislative concerns for 2006: "safeguarding municipal fiscal resources" and "local growth and development issues."

The first category refers to possible cuts in revenues and grant programs.

The second category refers to restrictions on annexation policies and to backlash over a U.S. Supreme Court decision on eminent domain, according to an MML summary.

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