Martin Brubaker - Hagerstown City Council Candidates Q&A

October 13, 2012

Name: Martin Brubaker
Date of birth: Oct. 3, 1946
Address: 183 Brynwood Street, Hagerstown
Education: B.A Gettysburg College
Occupation: Public Administration (retired)
Party affiliation: Democrat
Political Experience: Hagerstown City Council 2006-present; served on numerous City, County, and regional boards/commissions/task forces.

Q: A significant amount of public taxpayer money over a long period has been committed to help pay for the local share of debt service on the proposed multiuse sports and events center. If elected, would you continue to support this? Why or why not?

A: Significant city money has NOT been committed —  no major contracts signed or bond issues authorized. Project needs to make financial sense in terms of likely payback from lease plus assessable base increases and leveraging of public investment for multiple return of outside dollars. We need protection from Suns abandoning lease or going out business. If these conditions cannot be reached we will need to rethink the current concept. Suns are probably last chance to keep major league affiliated team in Hagerstown, although independent league franchise possible option. Therefore, pursue reasonable deal, but do not give away the store.

Q: How would you entice businesses to locate within city limits?

A: Over last several years, City has improved its processing service, including fast track, and customer service attitude. We have a good track record of business continuing to locate within the City in outlying areas. Also the Council/Planning Commission have worked hard with the staff to maintain/restore viable neighborhood commercial locations. Since 2008, downtown has been the tough nut to crack, despite our investment in more economic development staff and programs. See, my response to question 4, seeking major private investment and question 5, a funded tax decrease.

Q: In your opinion, what issue will be the most crucial facing the upcoming administration? How will you help address it?

A: The most crucial issue continuing to face the City will be the maintenance of public services and infrastructure without a tax increase. Employees compensation for salaries and benefits has been held down for this entire administration and pressures will increase in that arena. Many positions have not been filled for several years, again raising adequate service issues. Particularly until the national and regional economies have recovered, fiscal issues will predominate. Elected officials and staff have done a good job of guiding the City through unprecedented fiscal challenges of the past several years, maintaining this track record will be difficult.

Q: Do you think Hagerstown’s downtown can be truly “revitalized?” If so, what besides a new stadium, can the city do to spur the process?

A: Before the stadium issue arose, I had hoped new economic development staff could be utilized to lure a major private, tax paying employer to the downtown. I believe there are organizations, particularly in the Washington-Baltimore metro areas that are tired of the intense urban hassle in many parts of that region and may want to move a major office and/or research and development operation to our downtown, a setting that does not have metro area pressures, has many community amenities, an award-winning school system, and a beautiful valley setting with many recreational opportunities. This is a catalyst we need.

Q: Does Hagerstown have enough public safety personnel? If not, what changes would you make and how would you fund any increases?

A: We can “get by” with current level of fire and police staffing, but to be a more secure community we should enhance public safety. I have proposed that 25% of net revenues from the automated school enforcement zones be dedicated to public safety. Revenue figures are still pending, but this should allow at least 300 thousand for next fiscal year. The remaining 75% of this windfall revenue should be given back to the taxpayers in the form of a tax cut that should be at least 3-4 cents off the current rate, a 4-5% tax decrease, without service cuts.

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