Commissioners vote to hire lobbyist

January 25, 2006|by TARA REILLY

The majority of the Washington County Commissioners agreed Tuesday to hire a lobbyist to help boost state lawmakers' support for the county.

Two County Commissioners - Vice President William J. Wivell and John C. Munson - voted against the lobbyist, saying they didn't think one was necessary.

"I'm not committed to using taxpayers' funding for a lobbyist," Wivell said.

Munson said the county has employees who are competent at lobbying state lawmakers on the county's behalf.

"We're in good shape the way we are," Munson said.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook and Commissioners James F. Kercheval and Doris J. Nipps supported the action.

Kercheval said it's not unusual for counties to hire lobbyists, saying Montgomery County has several.

"I would support giving this a whirl," Nipps said. "We're no longer the rural county that's sitting out here, and we can't keep our heads in the sand ... during the 90-day session in Annapolis."


The Greater Hagerstown Committee, Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce and Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation (CHIEF) each agreed to pay $3,000 toward the lobbyist's $12,000 cost.

The action wasn't scheduled on the commissioners' meeting agenda for Tuesday. The vote took place after Kercheval brought up the topic during a segment of the meeting called "commissioners' reports."

The Chamber, Greater Hagerstown Committee and CHIEF came up with the proposal.

Kercheval said the lobbyist will focus on these four issues:

- Pushing for funding for water and sewer projects.

- Keeping the state's hands off county gaming revenues.

- Lobbying for money for Edgewood Drive and U.S. 40 improvements.

- Making sure money remains available for the county's planned emergency communications system.

"These four issues here are major issues to the entire community," Nipps said.

"This is not a whim," said Art Callaham of the Greater Hagerstown Committee. "I think it's a very appropriate use of taxpayers' money ..."

How they voted

The Washington County Commissioners agreed Tuesday by a 3-2 vote to hire a lobbyist to push county issues in Annapolis. The county, the Greater Hagerstown Committee, CHIEF and the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce each will pay $3,000 toward the lobbyist's costs.

Yes: Gregory I. Snook, James F. Kercheval, Doris J. Nipps

No: William J. Wivell, John C. Munson

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