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Clinic to get more help from city

September 06, 2006|by TARA REILLY

The Community Free Clinic is getting more help to chip away at its $130,000 deficit.

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday agreed by consensus to increase its annual contribution from $40,000 to $50,000.

The contribution is paid for with Community Development Block Grant funds.

The Washington County Commissioners last week approved a $50,000 one-time contribution to the free health-care facility.

The clinic stopped taking new patients July 1 because of financial constraints.

Executive Director Robin Roberson said an increased demand for services left the clinic with the $130,000 deficit.

Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said Tuesday he told the clinic the city possibly would loan the facility $30,000 for roof repairs.

Although the City Council praised the clinic for its work, council members said Tuesday they were uncomfortable with extending the loan at this time.

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The clinic has a leaking roof.

Bruchey said he figured the clinic could save money on repairs through a zero percent interest loan for the repairs.

The loan would be repaid to the city upon sale or transfer of the property, according to information provided by the city. It also would be funded with Community Development Block Grant money.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he wanted more information about the terms under which the clinic acquired its building at 249 Mill St. He said the clinic was not forthcoming with the information.

Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire said he didn't agree with the loan. He said it didn't make sense that the city was discussing it when the county has healthy finances.

He said the county has $30 million saved in the bank, a budget surplus, and it recently gave $5 million in rebates to property owners.

The County Commissioners do not fund the clinic on an annual basis.

Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said she wanted to know whether all of the people served by the clinic are local residents.

"I need to know that our local people are being served," Nigh said. "That is a major concern of mine, and it's becoming more and more of a major concern for me."

"I need to know that we are taking care of our own," she said.

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