City Council discusses legislative requests in work session

Council emphasized desire to see USM-H grow

December 21, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER |

HAGERSTOWN — The Hagerstown City Council held a special work session Tuesday to discuss some of its requests with members of the Washington County legislative delegation before they head to Annapolis in January for the next session of the General Assembly.

Sen.-elect Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington and Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington attended the meeting to listen to requests from the five-member council and address any concerns.

The council unanimously emphasized its desire to see the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown remain downtown and continue to grow.

The university campus is key to Hagerstown's future and its economic viability, Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II told the lawmakers.

Not long ago the downtown campus was on the chopping block for funding reductions, but efforts by the Washington County delegation helped save it, Serafini said.

"I don't think there is a question inside the delegation of our commitment to that (USMH) or our understanding of how important that is to the community," he said. "What we'll have to do to be creative to preserve it, I'm not sure, but we're committed to keeping it here."

Although the delegation must consider requests from the community lobbying coalition and county government, Councilman Martin Brubaker asked the lawmakers to give Hagerstown's concerns a fair hearing and support.

Because of the way government is structured, sometimes county and city interests conflict, forcing the delegation to favor one over the other, Shank said.  

The job of the delegation is to be sort of a referee and settle the differences, he said.

"All I can promise you is a transparent process, a fair hearing and some attempt to try to come up with some sort of a consensus-building approach, which is what we've attempted to do in the past."

The council also asked the delegation:

  • To discuss the law governing how the county imposes taxes on city residents.
  • Not to shift funding responsibility onto the backs of the city or the county to save money at the state level.
  • To give back some or all of the city's highway-user revenue.
  • To prevent Hagerstown from being a "dumping ground" for people in need of social services.
  • To develop more incentives for businesses to locate in Hagerstown.
  • To preserve gaming funding.

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