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Commissioners disagree on 'employment boost package'

June 17, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday discussed details of how to distribute the $1 million they set aside in next fiscal year's budget for an "employment boost package," but disagreed on one of the proposed incentives.

Robin L. Ferree, deputy director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, presented a proposed program recommended by the EDC.

Under the EDC's proposed program, business projects that start before June 30, 2010, and create at least 10 new full-time jobs or involve a capital investment of at least $1 million would be eligible, through a review process, for funding of $2,500 for each new job or $2,500 for each $1 million in new capital investment, whichever is greater. In addition, business projects that create at least one new job would be eligible for a special, accelerated review and approval process and three-year payment programs for excise taxes and county sewer connection fees.

The program is intended to boost nonresidential construction and capital investment in the county, while also creating long-term jobs, Ferree said.

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The commissioners agreed Tuesday that for a retail project to be eligible for the funding, it should have to create jobs that pay, on average, twice the minimum wage.

However, the commissioners could not agree on the proposal to allow businesses to pay sewer connection fees over three years. Commissioners Kristin B. Aleshire and William J. Wivell said they did not support that provision, while Commissioner James F. Kercheval said it was essential to the program.

Ferree said the EDC would meet to discuss revisions and submit another proposal to the commissioners.

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