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Hagerstown City Council considers cutting property tax rates

April 09, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday discussed decreasing property tax rates in an effort to ease the financial burden on residents after the city was told it would receive almost $1 million in unexpected grant money from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

On Thursday, the offices of U.S. Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin, both D-Md., and U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., announced that the city received a $948,825 grant to help pay the salaries and benefits of nine firefighters who are to be hired next month.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner suggested that the money was unexpectedly awarded, and city residents should receive a tax break as a result.

"I think it would be a real positive thing to cut the tax rate," Metzner said after the meeting. ""It wouldn't be much, but it could have a good psychological effect."

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Council members Martin Brubaker and Kelly S. Cromer, however, said the city should wait and study the situation further.

"We need to look at the out years and budget accordingly, so we don't spend it as soon as we get it," Cromer said.

Brubaker said he, too, would like to cut the tax rate, but city officials need to look to the future before they start handing out tax breaks.

In addition to the $948,825 grant for firefighters, the city received a grant for $39,150 from the Department of Homeland Security to initiate a public fire safety education initiative that will distribute free smoke detectors to landlords.

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