Lots of topics for discussion at the Hagerstown Mayor and City Council work session today

October 3 — Hagerstown Mayor and Council will have a work session this afternoon at 4 p.m. in Council Chambers at 1 E. Franklin St. 

It looks like this afternoon could be busy and it will begin with a Community Coalition lobbying review from 2023.  

Wes Decker, Communications Officer for the city of Hagerstown, said, “That will involve Washington County Chamber of Commerce President Paul Frey and Greater Hagerstown Committee President Jim Kercheval presenting to mayor and council. They’ll be looking back on some of those things that were successful last year, some that are left over for 2024. So perhaps a little bit of a preview of what’s to come, too, what will happen in Annapolis beginning in January. The city sort of started on this a couple of weeks ago at a work session with the city administrator bringing up some of the priorities that he thought the city should address for this year. I believe mayor and council will weigh in more on that on the 10th.” 

Invest Hagerstown and Partners in Economic Progress will have an update. 

Decker said, “This is a program or a couple of programs designed to stimulate investment in the form of development and redevelopment in the city. So I think what they’ll be doing is they’ll be looking at some of the guidelines and the applications that are used, and doing a little tweaking to make that just a little more user friendly for those who are looking to spend money in the city.”

Tax sale properties will also be discussed. 

Decker reminded, “This is something that went through some legislation last year. The city got a little bit of help, and went to Annapolis. There was some lobbying on the city’s behalf. What we’re talking about there are tax delinquent properties that have gone through the county tax sale, which was held back in June. There are 25 parcels that have been identified by the city that were not purchased or elicited, really no type of activity from the outside whatsoever, no interest. So the city is looking at acquiring those. The holdup is the taxes that are associated with those properties because many of them have been out there for a while. County taxes due altogether on those 25 properties are just over $142,000. So the city will talk at the meeting this afternoon and mayor and council will have a chance to weigh in. The idea is for staff then to go to the county and ask for a waiver of those taxes. On the opposite side for the city, the city is willing to waive the $972,000 plus associated with those parcels to get them back on the tax rolls and mitigate blight or whatever it may be that needs to be done with those properties. It’s something the city has been attempting to do for a while with these properties because it’s not hard to drive around the city, walk around the city and identify those. They’re pretty clear at this point.”

The city would look to fix up the properties and then possibly sell them. 

Decker said, “I think that is the idea, to clean up, first of all the appearance of those properties, but then also to get to a next step, where we would either be preparing the properties for some sort of transfer or a direct transfer to new taxpayers, some of those certainly adjacent to other properties and those who own the property that they have already might be interested in acquiring this property, but because of the state that it’s in, and of course, all the taxes associated with it, right now they have no interest whatsoever.”

One property may be in the vicinity of the new stadium in Hagerstown. 

Decker said, “There is one that I see here on Summit Avenue. So there’s one in particular that really stands out to me that would at least be in the vicinity.”

An alternate source of water for the city — not an additional one, but an alternate one — will also be looked at this afternoon. 

Decker explained, “We have the RC Wilson plant down in Williamsport and for years and years the Edgemont Reservoir out in Smithsburg, that has fallen into disrepair and it’s been a very unreliable alternate source. So city staff has been talking with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Department of the Environment about perhaps using Antietam Creek as that source of water, which would involve building a plant somewhere there. But again, find out what the appetite is from mayor and council this afternoon to perhaps incorporate Antietam Creek as that alternate source in lieu of what’s happened with the Edgemont Reservoir.”

The public can listen to the meeting in person or on the city’s YouTube channel or Facebook page. 
For the agenda, click here:  https://hagerstown.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/MeetingView.aspx?MeetingID=1222&MinutesMeetingID=-1&doctype=Agenda