By KAUSTUV BASU
6:00 AM EST, December 8, 2012
Marathon might be the only word to describe it.
The Washington County delegation will spend Tuesday meeting with various interest groups and members of the public as the legislators prepare for the General Assembly session that begins Jan. 9 in Annapolis.
The delegation’s day will begin at 7:30 a.m. when it meets with the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, and will conclude at about 8 p.m. after the delegates have answered questions from the public and listened to their comments.
In between, they will meet with representatives of the Washington County Board of Education, the Greater Hagerstown Committee, the Washington County Board of Commissioners, Hagerstown Community College, the City of Hagerstown and the Washington County Senior Coalition.
Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington, who is the chairman of the county delegation, said all of the meetings were being held in one day because of logistical reasons.
“The aim is to get together as many members of the delegation as possible. It is difficult to coordinate if the meetings are held over different days,” he said.
Serafini said to schedule nine meetings with different groups over several days would have been difficult and would have added to the travel time for the elected representatives and others. He also pointed out that many neighboring counties hold all of their meetings on the same day.
Last year, the meetings in Washington County were held over several days.
One important function of the meetings is to ensure that the county’s delegation speaks in one voice, he said.
“If there are differences, we want to work out those differences,” he said.
Serafini said the issue of the “disparity grant” would be a priority for the county’s delegation.
The disparity grant, also known as the teachers retirement supplemental grant, is given annually to counties with per-capita income tax revenues that are less than 75 percent of the state average. But the program was capped in 2010, and Washington County hasn’t been part of it since.
According to one report, the county would receive $6.7 million in grant money in Fiscal Year 2013 had it been eligible.
Serafini said the issue of downtown redevelopment would also figure in the delegation’s plans.
“The way to do that is significant public-private partnership,” Serafini said. “We have to do more for the economic development of the county.”
Another concern is the possible effects of the looming fiscal cliff.
“Our job is to do the best we can for our community,” Serafini said.
He said he wasn’t fazed by the nearly 13-hour schedule Tuesday. Long hours at the Maryland General Assembly had prepared him well, he said.
Pre-legislative meeting schedules
The schedule Tuesday for the Washington County delegation’s pre-legislative meetings:
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