Lynda Givens Evans 0

No Taxpayer Funding for Hagerstown Stadium

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The City of Hagerstown proposes to build a new stadium that is expected to cost $30 million. The main tenet will be the Hagerstown Suns, a class A minor league baseball team whom the City is currently negotiating a long-term lease. There are many people who oppose the building of this stadium for various reasons. The Hagerstown TEA Party objects solely to the use of public funding for the project. We believe that if this was a financially promising endeavor, private investors would be lining up to invest. Since May, the public has been told repeatedly that private-sector financial support is a critical component of the project. Yet, they have not been able to announce even one investor. The project moves on without any public discussion and with a plan that spends taxpayer money to build it, and if it is not successful, taxpayer money to subsidize it. This is crony-Capitalism and corporate welfare.This should be a concern to city, county, and state taxpayers. The Washington County Commissioners voted (3-2) to "indirectly" commit to $400,000 a year indefinitely. Instead of "directly" committing $400,000 a year on a 20-year investment, they decided to take over the city's $400,000 payment for the new Emergency 911 Center indefinitely! Does that sound like they are completely convinced that this is a profitable venture? It seems to me that they want to appear to support the stadium while not really supporting the stadium. County Administrator Greg Murray is quoted in the Herald Mail as saying that he recommended the indirect contribution so that the county would "remain at arms-length." He went on to spin it to seem like it made financial sense, but really? They would rather pay the money indefinitely than to take the chance on a 20-year investment? Only County Commissioner President Terry Baker (the Conservative pariah among his Republican colleagues) and Jeff Cline voted against funding the stadium. Note that three Republicans voted for taxpayer funding. The City of Hagerstown followed with a unanimous vote to match the $400,000 commitment by the county over 20 years. Note that the Republican mayor and a Republican councilman voted for taxpayer funding. Jill Estavillo, Economic Development Manager for the City, stated that "IF property near the stadium site is improved so its assessed value increases, city officials HOPE to use the increased property tax revenue to HELP fund the multiuse center project." She went on to say, "...we are looking at this project being funded without new taxes or a change in the tax rate, but funded as a result of change in assessed value by investment in downtown." However, due to the housing crisis and bad economy, many properties in Hagerstown are not worth what they are currently assessed and people are applying for appeals to have their assessments and their taxes lowered. This would have to be corrected first, and no one is predicting any real improvements in the real estate markets any time soon. This is pie in the sky! The truth is that the taxpayer is going to be almost the sole investor! Why? Because it's not financially feasible right now, in this economy, in this depressed city, with this lack luster ball team. Next they will be asking the state for matching funds. The Herald Mail has reported that Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot told local government and business leaders that the new multiuse stadium in downtown Hagerstown is a “must-do” for Hagerstown. Ultimately it will be up to the local delegation to fight for or against state funding for the project. Delegate Donoghue is a strong proponent for the project and likely to push for state funding. The rest of the Western Maryland Delegation are Conservatives and they will need to be convinced. IF YOU BELIEVE THAT TAXPAYER MONEY SHOULD NOT BE SPENT ON THIS PROJECT AND THAT PRIVATE INVESTORS SHOULD TAKE THE RISK...SIGN THIS PETITION AND PASS IT ON TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW THAT LIVES IN THE CITY OF HAGERSTOWN, WASHINGTON COUNTY, AND EVEN THE STATE OF MARYLAND.

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Hagerstown TEA Party Lynda Givens Evans, VP and Event Organizer



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