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Hancock and Clear Spring officials discuss issues with County Commissioners

April 05, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

HANCOCK - The mayors of Hancock and Clear Spring expressed concerns for their towns Tuesday night during the annual tax setoff meeting with the Washington County Commissioners.

Clear Spring Mayor Paul Hose Jr. shared his frustration that his town - with a population of 462 as of 2004 - still receives only the minimum amount of $2,000, as it has each of the past 15 years.

"Couldn't you do something about that?" Hose asked.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook assured Hose that the matter was being looked into - again.

Hancock Mayor Daniel Murphy wondered if there had been a decision yet on the proposed pay increases for Washington County Sheriff's deputies.

"When there is a pay increase, that's when we lose officers," Murphy said of his town's four-person police force.

Snook said that question is still being studied with a final decision due at a May 9 hearing.

"We understand that has a domino effect," Snook said of municipalities with their own police forces.

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In addition to Hose, all town council members except Terry Baker attended Tuesday's meeting.

Murphy was accompanied by council members Sinclair Hamilton and Randy Pittman at the meeting in Hancock.

The county will give Hancock $52,135 in 2006, a $4,249 increase over last year. Hancock received $47,886 in fiscal year 2005.

The five commissioners were in attendance along with County Administrator Rodney Shoop.

"All of the municipalities are growing, and that's a good thing," Snook said. In all, municipalities are receiving nearly $1.4 million in tax setoff money from Washington County in fiscal year 2006, a slight increase over last fiscal year.

The tax setoff money partially reimburses municipalities for police, parks and roads services where applicable. It is calculated based on population, assessable tax base and taxable income, according to the county's tax setoff report.

Snook had some good news for the towns, specifically about their requests for Project Open Space and highway user funds.

"You should probably be getting those soon," he said.

Tuesday night's tax setoff meeting was the last for this year's fund allocations.

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