Lewis C. Metzner - Hagerstown City Council Candidates Q&A

October 13, 2012
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Name: Lewis C. Metzner
Date of birth: Dec. 13, 1952
Education: B.S., University of Maryland 1974; J.D. University of Baltimore School of Law 1977
Occupation: Attorney
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Political Experience: City Council member 1994-present; 1981 candidate for mayor

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: I support the present conceptual plan for this project. This plan involves the City receiving $25 million in grant money along with a three hundred thousand yearly rental payment from the Suns.  Assuming this grant money is obtained, this has the potential to be one of the largest downtown redevelopment projects in our history with the bulk of the funding coming from non-city taxpayer money. If this funding does not materialize a new concept plan must be developed.

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

A: I, along with many candidates and current elected officials, believe that it is and has been time to “think big” as it relates to attracting business to our city in general, but especially as it relates to our downtown. An employer, such as the Board of Education located in our Center City would support multiple other smaller businesses. A new parking deck is integral to this project.

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

A: The current economic times have put a huge strain on our City operations. We have reduced staffing levels to a point which cannot be sustained in the long term.

We have put off some very expensive, yet needed infrastructure projects, in order to keep utility rates at a reasonable price and concurrently have reduced our overall non-utility expenditures. Finding a method to fund these basic requirements of government without raising taxes will be the most difficult task facing this new administration.

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: Our citizens have a great long-term memory. We remember the downtown of the sixties, a vibrant retail center-before the valley mall. We however have a poor short-term memory. We forget the downtown of the 80’s and early 90’s; a downtown known for its adult book stores, “holes” in the square with the primary “entertainment” occurring at 2 A.M. when the bars let out.

Today the unit block of South Potomac Street proves what can occur in our city when the private and public sector come together to improve the quality of life for all of our citizens.

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

A: Hagerstown is understaffed in many areas, none so evident as in our public safety sector. Our fire department must have its staffing brought up to at least the minimally acceptable standards. We should not be responding to fire calls with less than two firefighters on an engine. We have also seen a reduction in our police force due to the hard economic times. We need to supplement our police force in a number of new, innovative ways including the use of police “cadets” and additional sworn officers. Revenue from our speed cameras should be used to offset these additional expenses

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