City of Hagerstown withholding payment to Washington County after meeting requests are denied

Maryland

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — The City of Hagerstown is claiming the Board of Washington County Commissions will not sit down to discuss payments being made by the city for the countywide 911 dispatch center.

A press release put out by the city explained that on top of local income taxes, the city has been paying over $400,000 each year for 911 services already covered in the county taxes.

Last week, Hagerstown Mayor Emily Kelley sent a letter to Commissioner President Jeff Cline and the Board of Washington County Commission requesting the two sides enter into mediation in order to discuss and resolve the issue.

According to the press release put out by the city, Mayor Keller stated the disputed payment would be escrowed with an agent that has been mutually selected and held until a mediated agreement was reached. On Tuesday, April 20th, the press release states the request was denied in an email from Cline.

During a joint City Council and Board of County Commissioners meeting in August of 2019, the matter of the yearly payment was tabled and plans were made to discuss the issue at a later date. In June of 2020, after 10 months of no follow-up discussion, the City Council voted unanimously not to make the payment for 2019 until there was.

The City of Hagerstown is currently withholding the payment of $405,630 to the county until a meeting between the city and county takes place.

The county has requested the city make the payment with interest within 30 days and sign an agreement to make the payment from now on or the city will be forced to take back its own police dispatch.

Mayor Keller has been pushing for a meeting with the Board of County Commissions. She wants to not only put some sort of an agreement in writing but also discuss the tax differential and the fair level funding of the arrangement.

“The City of Hagerstown residents take up 21% of the tax base so they are already paying into the 911 center when they pay their taxes, plus they’re paying an additional four hundred and five thousand [dollars],” Mayor Keller explained. “So all we are asking is to sit down and come up with something that’s fair.”

The City of Hagerstown has stated there have been multiple attempts made to meet with the Board of County Commissions and will make the payment of $405,630 once that sit-down takes place regardless of the outcome.

WDVM has reached out to Commissioners’ President Jeff Cline for a statement and has not received any comment on the matter.

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