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County's employees to get help with houses

January 31, 2007|by TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Eligible Washington County employees could receive up to $15,000 toward the cost of buying a home under a program narrowly approved Tuesday by the County Commissioners.

Of that amount, up to $5,000 could come from the county in the form of a loan.

Commissioner James F. Kercheval said after the meeting the House Keys 4 Employees program will help the county remain competitive in attracting and retaining employees.

"It helps our employees buy homes," Kercheval said.

The commissioners approved the program by a 3-2 vote.

Commissioners President John F. Barr and Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire joined Kercheval in support of the program.

Commissioners Vice President Terry L. Baker and Commissioner William J. Wivell voted against the program.

Wivell said county residents will be picking up the costs of the program for the benefit of county employees. He thought the program would be a more appropriate incentive offered by private companies.

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Baker said he wanted more time to think about the program.

The income limits for help buying a house outside the City of Hagerstown are $75,900 for one- or two-person households, or $87,285 for households of three or more.

The limits for help in buying a home inside the city are $91,080 for one- or two-person households, or $106,260 for households of three or more.

The maximum purchase price for homes outside the city is $319,500, and the maximum price is $390,500 for homes in the city. The homes must be in the county and be the employees' primary residence, according to the program guidelines.

The county budgeted $25,000 for the program this fiscal year, which began July 1, 2006 and runs through June 30.

Eligible employees may receive a loan of up to $5,000 from the county toward down payment or closing costs. The state then would lend the employee an additional $5,000, with the possibility of receiving another $5,000 from the state, according to information provided by the county.

Terms for repaying the county loan include sale of the home or if the employee leaves county service, according to the information.

Kercheval said because employees are loaned the money, he didn't think it would be much of a cost to the county.

"I think we need to run ourself like a good employer," Kercheval said. "It helps people get started and to keep moving forward."




How they voted



The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday voted 3-2 to approve the House Keys 4 Employees program. Under the program, eligible Washington County employees could receive up to $15,000 toward the cost of buying a home.

President John F. Barr - For

Kristin B. Aleshire - For

James F. Kercheval - For

Vice President Terry L. Baker - Against

William J. Wivell - Against




Income limits



Income eligibility requirements for the House Keys 4 Employees program:

· Income limits for employees of Washington County government buying a house outside the City of Hagerstown are $75,900 for one- or two-person households, or $87,285 for households of three or more.

· The limits for help buying a home inside the city are $91,080 for one- or two-person households, or $106,260 for households of three or more.

· The maximum purchase price for homes outside the city is $319,500, and the maximum price is $390,500 for homes in the city. The homes must be in the county and be the employees' primary residence.

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