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Hagerstown council to vote today on hiring lobbying firm

January 22, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - The Hagerstown City Council will hold a special session today to vote on whether to hire The Ferguson Group, a lobbying firm that would represent the city's interest in Washington, D.C.

Hiring The Ferguson Group would cost the city $7,500 a month until March 15, according to city documents. The cost would increase thereafter to $8,500 a month for each additional month that the city retains its services. Beginning Jan. 15, 2009, the fee would increase to $9,000 a month, records show.

The Ferguson Group would help the city land federal grants to help pay for road and sewer projects, among other things, city records show. Kareem D. Murphy, a partner with The Ferguson Group, said earlier this month that The Ferguson Group could not guarantee a return on the city's investment.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner and Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said Monday they would support hiring the lobbyist.

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"We have never gone after federal money, and there is money out there," Nigh said. "Our sources are drying up on the backs of the taxpayers."

As far as the cost was concerned, Nigh said, "If you want lobbyists to get what you need, you have to pay for it."

Councilman Martin Brubaker and Councilwomen Kelly S. Cromer and Alesia Parson-McBean could not be reached for comment.

Earlier this month, however, Parson-McBean said she supported hiring The Ferguson Group. She said she has heard nothing but good things about the firm's reputation at several municipal conferences.

"I'm already convinced it's good for Hagerstown," Parson-McBean said.

Representatives from The Ferguson Group could not be reached for comment Monday because of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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

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