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With latest tie-breaker, Bruchey is two-for-two

October 05, 2006

With a five-member City Council, Hagerstown's Mayor Robert Bruchey rarely has an opportunity to exercise his role as a tie-breaker.

But for the second time in recent weeks, Bruchey did so and for the second time, he made the right decision.

Bruchey's first call was a vote to place resident Thomas Immer on the Hagerstown Planning Commission. Immer, a frequent critic of the city government in the past, is one critic who does his research before he speaks out.

In addition, Immer also ran for the city council, which means that he was willing to do more than sit on the sidelines and complain. The mayor was correct to give Immer a chance to do more.

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On Tuesday, Bruchey broke a tie that allowed for the waiver of a pre-annexation agreement that many developers must sign if they want to get city services.

In simple terms, the developer agrees that if the boundaries of the city should expand out to their property, they must agree to annex and pay city taxes.

The land in question is a 91.3-acre parcel at Hunters Green Business Center along Hopewell Road, owned by Hagerstown Venture LLC.

That firm was joined in its request by the Hagerstown- Washington County Industrial Foundation, (CHIEF) which owns 51.4 acres there.

If Hagerstown Venture LLC had signed the agreement, it would not have had to pay city taxes immediately. Only when the city boundary lines stretched out that far would the payments have started.

But the uncertainty about whether or not future tax payments will be required is not something the officials of prospective businesses want to deal with.

In this case, Hagerstown Venture LLC opted to know now what it will pay in the future and agreed to a payment in lieu of taxes.

And so, instead of a signature on an agreement that might not ever yield any revenue, the mayor's action brought an agreement that no matter what happens to Hagerstown's boundaries, the city will get more revenue.

If these are the kinds of things tie-breakers yield, by all means, let's have more of them.

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