Taxes top list of city's priorities

December 21, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN - Five days before Christmas, city officials wished for more logical taxation, a better prisoner release policy and more funding for nonprofit groups in need.

Hagerstown's mayor and city council members presented their 2007 legislative priorities Wednesday during a lunch meeting with Del. John P. Donoghue.

State Sen. Donald F. Munson was on the agenda, too, but did not attend.

The top item on the list was double taxation and tax revenue.

The list of recommendations says city taxpayers overpay for services duplicated in the city and the county, such as planning, engineering and public works.

Also, revenue from recordation, title transfer and hotel-motel taxes collected in the city does not go to the city.

"We need a little bit more fair and equitable revenue sharing," Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said.

The city asked Donoghue about using his influence to get the county to increase the amount of money refunded to the city.


Donoghue encouraged the governments to talk about the issue, especially with three new Washington County Commissioners in office, including former Hagerstown Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire.

Bruchey said the council is scheduled to meet with the commissioners Jan. 30.

For fiscal year 2006, Washington County was scheduled to refund nearly $1.4 million to its nine municipalities because of overlapping services. The City of Hagerstown was to receive the largest share, $1.1 million.

The city's legislative priorities list says a "fair and equitable" rebate to city taxpayers would be about $3.8 million, based on city taxpayers contributing 21 percent of the county's general fund.

The city's list also includes a change to the state's practice of releasing paroled inmates by dropping them at a bus station near Hagerstown and giving them money for a ticket to their home counties.

The city requested state funding for Community Free Clinic, Holly Place senior citizens' home and Barbara Ingram School for the Arts.

The last two priorities on the city's list were a central booking facility and support for the expansion of Washington County Free Library.

Donoghue spoke in favor of several of the city's requests, particularly Community Free Clinic, which he said saves the public money by treating people who otherwise would turn to emergency rooms for medical care.

City and county officials usually present their legislative wishes to Washington County's state lawmakers shortly before the Maryland General Assembly session begins in January.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner praised Donoghue, saying the meeting seemed more personal and productive than past sessions with Washington County's delegation.

City's legislative priorities

The city of Hagerstown's list of 2007 legislative priorities, which it presented Wednesday to Del. John P. Donoghue:

· Fixing an imbalance for city residents facing double taxation by the city and the county

· Sharing more in county tax revenue generated in the city

· A better state policy for releasing paroled prison inmates

· Support for the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts

· Funding for Community Free Clinic

· Funding for Holly Place

· Funding for a central booking facility for local police

· Support for the expansion of Washington County Free Library downtown

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