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Hagerstown considers hiring lobbyists to obtain grant money

January 10, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - The Hagerstown City Council is considering whether to spend nearly $10,000 a month to hire lobbyists from Washington, D.C.

During Tuesday's City Council meeting, representatives from The Ferguson Group said their services would be used to help the city obtain grants from the federal government to fund road and sewer projects, among other things.

Kareem D. Murphy, a partner with The Ferguson Group, said hundreds of millions of federal dollars are available to fund the needs of local governments, ranging from road and sewer projects to communications equipment for police departments.

If the council decides to hire The Ferguson Group, he said he would meet with city officials to create a list of priorities and determine the best strategy for pursuing funding.

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"(The process) is designed to capture all of the resources that are possible at the federal level," he said.

Murphy said The Ferguson Group could not guarantee a return for its services.

Rod Autrey, an associate with The Ferguson Group, said the firm usually charges a minimum monthly retainer of $10,000. The City of Hagerstown probably would receive a discount, however, because it would be The Ferguson Group's first client in Maryland, he said.

The Ferguson Group has 130 local-government clients in 28 states, Autrey said.

Autrey, Murphy and The Ferguson Group's CEO, William Ferguson Jr., were invited to speak at the council meeting by Councilwoman Alesia Parson-McBean, who said she heard only good things about the firm's reputation when she attended several municipal conferences.

"I'm already convinced it's good for Hagerstown," she said.

The council agreed to continue discussions with The Ferguson Group and to get a price quote before deciding whether to enter into a contract.

Cincinnati and Memphis, Tenn., are among The Ferguson Group's clients, according to the company's Web site.

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