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County, city hire lobbying firm

December 16, 2008

The Washington County Commissioners and the Hagerstown City Council voted Tuesday to contribute $10,000 and $5,000, respectively, to hire a lobbying firm to represent local interests during the upcoming session of the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis.

They join several other members of the Washington County Community Lobbying Coalition, which collectively will pay $38,999 for lobbying efforts, said Brien Poffenberger, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

Poffenberger said other contributers are: Washington County Public Schools, $10,000; the Washington County Free Library, $5,000; the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, $3,000; the Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation (CHIEF), $3,000; and the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, $2,999. The Greater Hagerstown Committee participates in agenda development but does not participate financially, he said.

The commissioners voted 4-1 to approve the $10,000 contribution, with Commissioner William J. Wivell opposed.

The council voted 5-0.

The lobbying coalition's agenda includes fighting for state participation in the library expansion, examining adaptive reuse of buildings that are past their prime and making the county more attractive for biotech businesses and investors, Poffenberger said. Lobbyists also will alert local officials when important community issues arise, such as gaming revenue, University System of Maryland at Hagerstown funding and transportation project funding, he said.

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The coalition will hire Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan and Silver, the same firm that has represented the coalition for the last three years, Poffenberger said.

-- Heather Keels and Dan Dearth

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