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County briefs

July 11, 2007

Commissioners give guidance on excise tax



The head of a group studying the county's excise tax system got guidance Tuesday from the Washington County Commissioners.

John Schnebly is the chairman of a task force that will meet over the next several weeks to consider a new tax structure. The task force must send the commissioners and the county's state lawmakers a report by Sept. 30.

A bill passed during the last session of the Maryland General Assembly lets the county remove the cap on its excise tax on new construction for one year.

County officials have expressed an interest in switching from a flat tax to a tax based on a building's square footage.

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Washington County Commissioners James F. Kercheval and Kristin B. Aleshire, in particular, had a lot to say during Tuesday's meeting.

They talked with Schnebly about developers who put up houses only for older residents and the benefits of having businesses use vacant stores instead of building new ones.

Kercheval said the task force should consider that single-family homes cost a community more in school services than they generate in tax revenue.




Radio consultant gets more money



The county has agreed to pay a consultant as much as $150,000 more to help with a radio communications system project.

A change order says the county's original contract with L. Robert Kimball & Associates of State College, Pa., was for $128,000.

Previous change orders added another $270,158.

Including the extra $150,000 that the Washington County Commissioners approved Tuesday, the county's new contract will be a maximum of $548,158.

"Due to the extended duration/complexity of the contract design review phase of the project, additional funds are needed to provide for technical support and consulting services through the end of the project," a change order summary says.

Commissioners President John F. Barr said the project was supposed to be completed by the spring of 2008, but the latest estimate is the spring of 2009.




Social service agency to get $1.2 million



The Washington County Partnership for Children and Families will receive $1.2 million from the state of Maryland under a contract approved by the county Tuesday.

Through the county partnership, state money will go to several programs, including the Washington County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition ($98,941), Boys & Girls Club of Washington County ($92,150) and a Hagerstown Police Department detective to investigate physical and sexual abuse cases ($40,000).

The Washington County Commissioners approved the contract with the state Tuesday. They noted that county money is not involved.




Property conveyed to Clear Spring



CLEAR SPRING - The Washington County Commissioners agreed Tuesday to convey two parcels of surplus property to the town of Clear Spring.

The parcels had been conveyed to the county in 1974 because of drainage issues, according to Real Property Administrator Joseph Kuhna. The town has since paved a portion of one of the parcels for overflow parking, and asked the county to convey them for continued parking use.

The county will retain a perpetual drainage easement on both. Kuhna said both are within a 100-year flood plain and have no development potential.




Pippel appointed to county post



CLEAR SPRING - The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday appointed Julie Pippel as director of the county's newly created Division of Environmental Management.

The new department consolidates the county's Water Quality and Solid Waste departments.

Pippel, who has been a county employee nearly 18 years, has most recently served as acting director of the Department of Water Quality. Her new duties begin today.

Her annual salary will be $72,000.

- Andrew Schotz and Tamela Baker

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