Hancock Mayor Daniel A. Murphy on Tuesday evening asked the Washington County Board of Commissioners to consider creating a job-credit program that would reward employers for hiring county residents.
“As individuals are hired from Washington County, a little bit of money would go back to the company that would do that, the idea being to show that the county is interested in enhancing jobs and wants those kinds of companies to come,” Murphy said during a county commissioners meeting at the Hancock Town Hall and Community Center.
Murphy suggested that Evolve Composites, the concrete products company preparing to start production in the former Fleetwood Travel Trailer plant in Hancock, could be the pilot participant for the job credit.
For example, if the company hired 25 county residents, it would receive 25 times a certain per-employee amount from the county for a given period of time, Murphy said.
“I’m not sure what kind of dollars we’d be talking about,” he said. “That’s certainly open to discussion.”
Murphy said the town had also floated the job-credit idea with the Morgan County, W.Va., commissioners, but they have not decided whether to act on the idea.
The Washington County commissioners did not discuss the idea at Tuesday’s meeting, but County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said he would like more information on it and that the commissioners could discuss it.
Evolve Composites has been modifying the former Fleetwood plant, now owned by the town and renamed the Stanley E. Fulton Industrial Complex, in preparation to begin production of utility pads, pavers and blocks starting in mid-January, Chief Executive Officer Martin Bristow has said.
Hancock Town Manager David Smith also asked the commissioners for help on the issue of taxes on the Stanley E. Fulton complex. The town has not paid taxes on the property since taking ownership and marketed the facility as a tax-free property because of its town-owned status, Smith said.
However, the town recently received a call from a Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation employee who said if the property was not used primarily for government activities, it would be taxed.
Smith asked if the county could figure out a way to rebate the tax money to the town.
“If ever there’s a time to not add a burden to us, it would be on a project like this,” he said.
Commissioner Ruth Anne Callaham said she did not want to give the impression that the county was not going to follow the law.
Murphy agreed, saying that was why the town was suggesting the county collect the tax, but offer some form of rebate to the town.
Smith and Murphy both praised the county for its good working relationship with Hancock and stressed the importance of job creation as the town continues to suffer from the loss of major employers like Rayloc and Fleetwood. Rayloc ceased production in 2008 and Fleetwood closed in 2005.
“We hope that (Evolve Composites is) going to be listed in the top 10 employers one day in Washington County like Rayloc and Fleetwood," Murphy said. “That’s our dream.”