Rebate and switch

Some residents disappointed, others not surprised by plans gone awry

Some residents disappointed, others not surprised by plans gone awry

March 04, 2006|By DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ


Keedysville resident Philip McRorie didn't seem angry about it, nor was he pleased to learn the Washington County Commissioners might not be mailing $100 rebate checks to county property owners.

"It seems like they more-or-less put the buggy before the horse," McRorie said outside Weis Market in Boonsboro Friday afternoon.

"I wasn't looking forward to it, anyway," said Keedysville resident Eric Lilly, who added he felt the measure could have helped some county residents, including senior citizens living on fixed incomes.

The commissioners have talked for several months about using surplus funds to finance the rebates, which they have said would be evenly divided among all property owners in the county. In January, that amount stood at about $100.


Commissioners John C. Munson and Doris J. Nipps said Thursday they learned from County Attorney Richard Douglas this week the county cannot issue the refunds without enabling legislation from the Maryland General Assembly. They said Douglas told them the county does not have that legislation.

Douglas declined to say what he has told the commissioners because of client-attorney privilege, and the commissioners have not met as a body to discuss the issue since news of the situation surfaced.

Of 13 Washington County property owners interviewed at Weis on Friday, none said they felt strongly about the issue and some said they were not even aware the commissioners were considering issuing the refunds.

"It sounds to me like they just assumed they could do it because Frederick County had done it," said James Sklencar, of Boonsboro. "It sounds to me like it was just an honest mistake. They should be applauded for trying to do that."

Bonnie Thompson, who lives near Hagerstown, said she felt the county was right in wanting to give the funds back to taxpayers if it had a surplus. She said thinks some residents will be disappointed in the event the county is not able to do so.

"It kind of throws mud in the eye, and makes them look bad," added Jason Gallant, who also lives near Hagerstown.

Rohrersville resident Harry Wood said he wasn't counting on the money, and felt the county should redirect the funds toward more worthy causes.

"I'd rather see them use the money to improve services like fire and rescue," Wood said.

Keedysville resident Betty Eaton said she wouldn't have minded the extra $100, "but so be it."

Boonsboro resident James Skelton said he does not think taxes in Washington County are as high as in neighboring counties, though he felt it might have been nice for the county to give out the rebates if it was able to do so.

"It's a moot point, and I think that whoever is in charge needs to be held accountable," he added.

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