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Hagerstown briefs

April 21, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

City hears plan to exempt some from fee



The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday heard a proposal to exempt certain residents from the state's Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund fee.

In 2004, the state created the fund to help pay for sewage treatment plant upgrades. Each home served by a wastewater treatment plant is charged $2.50 per month.

The proposed exemption for city residents is based on state standards. Residents would have to meet two of the following criteria:

- The sewer bill account holder receives supplemental Social Security income or food stamps.

- The sewer bill account holder receives veterans' or Social Security disability benefits.

- The household receives an energy assistance subsidy.

- The household is at or below a poverty income guideline.

The Washington County Community Action Council would oversee the exemptions.

The town of Williamsport approved a similar exemption for its residents this month.




Residency program rent might increase



The amounts the city pays to help downtown renters and homeowners as part of a residency program might go up.

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Under a proposal presented Tuesday to the Hagerstown City Council, the city would pay $150 per month to renters, up from the current $100 per month.

The city would increase its down payment and settlement subsidies to people buying a house downtown from $1,500 to $2,500.

Larry Bayer, the manager of the city's Community Development Department, said the program carries a two-year residency requirement, meaning people who receive the subsidies have to live downtown at least that long.

The downtown area was defined in a memo as an area with Cannon Avenue, East Avenue, Prospect Street and Baltimore Street as the boundaries.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II suggested raising the housing subsidy to $5,000 to keep up with higher home prices. At that amount, Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said, the residency requirement should be longer.

Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire said the $5,000 subsidy for homeowners could be for a five-year downtown stay, and lesser amounts could be offered for shorter stays.

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