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Kercheval says more work needed

August 01, 2006|by TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The Washington County Commissioners have set a good foundation in managing growth, but more work is needed, Commissioner James F. Kercheval said.

It's one of the reasons why the Republican has decided to seek re-election.

Kercheval, 41, said effective and long-term regional planning is necessary, especially as the commissioners are expected to consider the rezoning of urban areas.

The need for road repairs and traffic problems can be reduced with proper long-term planning, Kercheval said.

"You need to start looking further out because things happen so quickly," he said.

An example of long-term planning is the county's pavement maintenance program, in which the commissioners have pledged spending $5 million a year on road repairs over a five-year period, he said.

Kercheval said the commissioners quadrupled the amount the county had been contributing toward road repairs.

"We have 800 miles of roads and we have a long-term process to keep the roads in proper condition," Kercheval said.

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The commissioners have also over the last four years increased spending for education and school construction projects, achieved an AA bond rating and are managing growth through the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO).

"So when I look back at what we did ... we are much better off than we've ever been as a county," he said.

He also thinks charter home rule, which will be an issue for the next board, can work in the county.

He said it allows local residents and local governments to make more local decisions without depending on state lawmakers in Annapolis.

Currently, under the commissioner form of government, Kercheval said local bills can be tied up in committee because of lawmakers playing politics.

Under home rule, voters would decide which laws get approved, he said.

"It allows you to make some local decisions quicker," Kercheval said.

Twenty-four candidates - 12 Republicans and 12 Democrats - are running in the Sept. 12 primary election. The top five vote-getters from each party will advance to the Nov. 7 general election.

The commissioners' salary is $30,000 a year. The president receives $33,000.

Kercheval, former owner of Kerch's Southern BBQ, lives in Hagerstown with his wife, Clair, and three sons, Jacob, 7, Garrett, 5 and Luke, 10 months.

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