City of Hagerstown met with county commissioners and considered a grant for the Hamilton hotel owners

July 21 – Hagerstown Mayor and City Council members met yesterday for a work session that began with a get-together with Washington County Commissioners.

In an effort to work together more, the City and County have agreed to joint meetings from time to time to discuss matters important to both organizations.

Wes Decker, Communications Officer for the City of Hagerstown, joined First News for a recap of the work session and the meeting with the commissioners.

The county will have a presentation for Mayor and City Council in October about the 911 center in October which will include how the dispatching is done and some of the costs and revenue associating with maintaining the center.

Decker said, “So that should help in a big way not only for Mayor and Council to understand how things are being handled at this point in time because we’ve gone back over 12+ years when all of this was put in place with the 911 payment. So where are we now with that? So there will be a presentation coming up down the road in October.”

The tax differential was discussed again as well.

Decker said, “The City would like to have fire service included in that tax differential. And then creating what the City would term a fairer and more inclusive governance model for fire, rescue and EMS. Perhaps even coming up with an advisory council to oversee and sort of guide what goes on there and the City having more of a voice in that.”

The payment for the 911 center has been made to the County and there is another payment yet to come from the City for this fiscal year. Decker doesn’t foresee any issues with that.

There was also discussion about the American Rescue Plan money coming from the federal government.

Decker said, “Money that was allocated to both the City and the County and they agreed to get together and talk about and discuss how they could collaborate on using some of that money jointly. How they could come together and use that money more effectively for projects that would benefit both the City and the County. So those discussions will be forthcoming too.”

Following the commissioners meeting, the City Council held a work session where they considered a grant to help the owners at the Hamilton Hotel.

The building had a partial collapse last year on the day before Thanksgiving. Jonathan Street had been shut down for a long time because of the worry that more of that building might come down.

The owners had come in to talk to Mayor and Council about the possibility of the City helping to stabilize the building with a grant for $716,000.

The grant would also de-escalate the loan situation for the owners with the bank because they have not been able to generate any revenue at all because they haven’t been able to have tenants in the building.

Decker said, “The city’s view on this is this is something that because it is such a big building in the city, to sort of address it now and in this fashion or to perhaps have to deal with it later and maybe even wind up with that building if we don’t help the owners in some way here. It’s a tough situation.”

Last night mayor and council were in favor of going forward with the grant. There would be language in the deal to make it incumbent upon the owners to do a number of things to assure they get the money and use it the way the city wants them to.

Pat Ryan asked, “Is there federal money that might be able to help? Almost three quarters of a million dollars. That’s a pretty big number.”

Decker said, “No question about it. I think there will be many ways this will be viewed as creatively as possible to make that happen as you said so that it is not on the backs of the taxpayers or if it is on the backs of taxpayers in a very minimal way.”

For more information about the work session, check out the City’s Facebook page here: