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Letters to the Editor

December 11, 2007

Low-cost housing project isn't a job for city government



To the editor:

The Hagerstown City Council will decide whether to earmark $500,000 in grant money to help fund the construction of nine housing units across Bester Elementary School. Add to that the $350,000 from the Hagerstown Housing Authority, $400,000 from the Washington County Commissioners and an additional $300,000 from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, and you are looking at $1.55 million in taxpayer money to fund this $1.63 million project of nine workforce units. This does not include the value of the land, which is owned by the city. That equates to $177,000 per unit of which $172,222 is funded by taxpayers. The sale price of these units will be $135,000.

Why is it that individuals and developers are scolded for not paying their fair share for roads and schools, yet we use public funds to build housing units and exempt them from the impact fees that everyone else must pay? Why didn't the city sell the property to a developer which would build these units? Could it be that the impact fees do not make it feasible to build affordable housing?

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The developers are not the evil doers of this county, it is the local governments. It is the government that makes the rules, but does not abide by them. It is the government that competes with businesses and their own citizens simply by exempting themselves from their own rules. Think snow removal, for one.

With the passage of one of the largest tax increases by the State of Maryland government, especially at a time of economic downturn, foreclosures, higher energy costs, the County Commissioners and the City Council should be put on notice that any tax increases would be unwise. Essential services such as fire, rescue, police, utilities, highways, trash, etc., are best left untouched. Pet projects of City Council members such as civil war museums, open space, and housing projects should be put on hold.

Clifton Deward
Hagerstown




Keep holiday debt under control



To the editor:

Our country is in dire need of reducing our debt of $9.3 trillion, and so I offer a big solution for the problem in this little "Christmas" jingle:

Shop and spend, shop and spend.

It's out of control in this modern day.

If the Lord was in their heart,

From excess shopping they'd depart

And throw their credit cards away.

Nancy Martin
Hancock




When planning, keep the Jewish holidays in mind



To the editor:

Now is the time that many organizations, civic and public, are planning their activities for the coming year and, perhaps, for the next few years.

It has been brought to my attention many times those public and civic organizations such as PTAs, schools, the Kennedy Center, the MSO, the City Council and others have planned meetings and major events on major Jewish holidays.

When brought to their attention, their reply has been either that the schedule was planned years in advance or they did not know. Many of these holidays are listed on every secular calendar.

The Jews of Hagerstown and surrounding areas generally celebrate three major holidays: Rosh Hashanah (the New Year), Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), and Passover. All holidays begin the night before the date shown. In 2008, Passover begins April 20, Rosh Hashanah is on Sept. 30, and Yom Kippur is on Oct. 9.

For planning for future years, a Web site to consult is http://judaism.about.com/od/holidays/ss/cal_tenyear_3.htm. If you have any questions regarding the dates of any Jewish holidays, you can call Congregation B'nai Abraham 301-733-5039 and speak with Rabbi Fred Raskind.

I am sure that any member of the congregation will be happy to help in consulting with important dates. From now on, there is no reason not to know.

Sybil Schiffman
Hagerstown

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