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Hagerstown City Council briefs

August 19, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

Hagerstown Code Administration Division upgrades service



Hagerstown's Code Administration Division has been working on the tone, timeliness and reasonableness of its work, its director said Tuesday.

During a PowerPoint presentation to the Hagerstown City Council, John Lestitian gave examples of each.

As examples of "tone," he said the division has changed the wording of its forms and continually listens to customers.

For "timeliness," plumbing, electrical and mechanical permits are now issued the same day. Residential building permits that don't require approval by the Historic District Commission are issued under a Next Day Permitting Program.

Under "reasonableness," the division reviewed the city's code requirements and how they compare to state requirements, Lestitian's PowerPoint presentation said.

Lestitian told the council that the division focuses on public safety by preventing or addressing potential dangers and focuses on neighborhood vitality by protecting the city's assessable tax base.

City to launch Hagerstown Advance marketing effort



The City of Hagerstown will launch the Hagerstown Advance marketing effort at the end of September, according to a report prepared for the mayor and city council.

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The phrase is part of a marketing plan four local companies are creating.

The city hired the companies -- High Rock Studios, Ridge Runner Publishing, Fleetwood Design and 2nd Floor Media -- through a $58,000 contract last year.

During Tuesday's council meeting, Councilwoman Ashley C. Haywood questioned why the marketing contract was awarded without a bidding process.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said the companies that received the contract are local and already invested in the community.

The topic came up as the council discussed a proposed city incentive program called Partners in Economic Progress. Under that program, developers could receive tax rebates or other incentives for improving the city's downtown.

Haywood said that before supporting the program, she wanted "a little bit more confidence" that developers might try to use it. Councilman William E. Breichner agreed.

But Councilman Martin E. Brubaker said the council can't stall too long or "we risk downtown retreating further."

Councilman Forrest Easton also suggested moving ahead.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said the city needs to make sure the program is in place before advertising it.

The council is scheduled to vote on the program Tuesday.

City to buy half-acre to build pump station for for new hospital



The City of Hagerstown will pay the American Red Cross $50,000 for a half-acre on Conrad Court, off Eastern Boulevard.

The city has a wastewater pump station at the site, which has a .14-acre easement dedicated to the city, according to a memo prepared by Michael S. Spiker, the city's director of utilities.

Buying .51 acres from the Red Cross will let the city build a 600,000-gallon-per-day wastewater pump station as part of an agreement between the city and the Washington County Hospital Association, the memo says.

Spiker told the Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday the purchase is a final piece of a sewer project connected to a new hospital being built on Robinwood Drive.

During a special meeting before its work session Tuesday, the council voted 4-1 to approve the purchase. Councilman William M. Breichner voted against it.

City to hold another Utility Relief Benefit Concert



The City of Hagerstown expects to hold another concert to raise money to help offset residents' utility bills.

The city held a Utility Relief Benefit Concert in 2007 and 2008.

A summary presented to the mayor and city council Tuesday shows the 2007 concert raised about $20,500 for the benefit fund and last year's concert raised $13,300. The projection for this year is about $13,400.

All of the figures are net, after expenses.

Asked why proceeds dropped the second year, Alesia Parson-McBean, who helped organize the benefit, said some people donated half what they donated the first year.

Al Martin, the city's finance director, said the city tried to solicit money for the fund by inserting notices in bills sent to 18,000 people, but only raised $125 that way.

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