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Hagerstown briefs

February 15, 2006|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

County honors city for recycling efforts



During the Hagerstown City Council's work session Tuesday, County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook presented the city with a certificate of merit for its efforts to promote curbside recycling, which he said helps reduce the amount of trash dumped at the county's Forty West Landfill.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said the award represented the first time " either government has given the other government an award or recognition, and it's a step in the right direction."

Snook, the rest of the commissioners and members of county staff attended the council meeting to tell the city how much it would be receiving in property tax funding for the 2006 fiscal year. The county uses the funds to reimburse municipalities for police, parks and road services. The funds are calculated based on several factors, including population. For the 2006 fiscal year, the city's portion will increase 8.87 percent to $1,108,797.

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City finance director urges city to grow



Hagerstown Finance Director Alfred E. Martin is urging city council members to be more aggressive in the city's growth and annexation efforts in order to capture more funds from Washington County for public upgrades.

"If the city does not share proportionately in the overall growth in the metropolitan Hagerstown area in assessable base, population and personal taxable income, it will find itself increasingly constrained in its ability to generate the revenues needed to fund its operations and public service needs," Martin wrote in a memo to council members.

During a work session Tuesday, County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said the city will be receiving $1,108,797 in property tax setoff funds, funds the county distributes to reimburse municipalities for expenses related to roads, police and parks efforts.

Martin said, in past years, growth outside Hagerstown has outpaced growth within the city. He said the city's annexation policy and development in the city's urban growth area have begun to help the city catch up with neighboring municipalities.




City reassesses uses for warehouse



The vacant Tusing Warehouse on East Washington Street could become a black history museum, a school for the arts or an art center, according to the revised intentions of the Hagerstown City Council.

Since it bought the property in 1997 for about $170,000, the city has tried for several years to market the property to potential developers. Frederick, Md., attorney Stephen Glessner withdrew his plans to buy and renovate the building last summer after more than two years of discussions with the city, after he lost his original partner on the deal and was unable to follow through on his plans.

During a work session Tuesday, the city's economic development director, Deborah Everhart, asked council members to consider whether the city should sell the building, lease it as is or make renovations and then lease it. She said the size of the three-story building, which is only 10,800 square feet, makes it an expensive building per square foot to bring up to current codes. She said the city needs to consider how the building will best fit in with the city's downtown revitalization efforts.

Everhart provided council members with a list of 11 types of uses for the building, including a private health club, a specialty grocery store and a combined restaurant-nightclub. The council trimmed the list to three and asked Everhart to market the building for either sale or lease to developers interested in using it for one of those uses.

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