Name: William M. Breichner, Sr.
Date of birth: Oct. 6, 1931
Address: 1117 Oak Hill Ave., Hagerstown
Occupation: Retired (Water Utility Management)
Party affiliation: Democratic
Political experience: 4 years Mayor (2001-2005); 3 years City Administrator (appointed 1983)
Q: A significant amount of public taxpayer money over a long period has been committed to help pay for the local share of debt service on the proposed multiuse sports and events center. If elected, would you continue to support this? Why or why not?
A: I believe that professional baseball is an important community asset and, in view of current baseball standards it will be necessary to provide a new stadium. With the possibility of a major private contribution added to county and state support, the debt service necessary to complete the project can be covered by rental payments and a reasonable contribution by the City. Keep in mind that currently the City incurs considerable expense to maintain the existing stadium and receives only $1 in rent annually. I have always supported major stadium improvements as long as they can be accomplished at a reasonable cost.
Q: How would you entice businesses to locate within city limits?
A: Determining how the city can assist business to locate within the city limits would be based on the nature of what is proposed, whether it is a new or an expanding business. This could mean assistance with zoning issues, building codes and/or plan reviews on a fast track basis. The city should immediately inform the business of such programs as the PEP and the Community Development Block Grant programs that are designed to provide financial assistance. I would support developing a deferred payment plan for projects with high utility installation costs. In certain cases we should also assist with property acquisition.
Q: In your opinion, what issue will be the most crucial facing the upcoming administration? How will you help address it?
A: Perhaps the most critical issue facing the city over the next four years, besides revolutionizing our downtown, will be the issue of how to comply with the State’s new stormwater requirements. Projected to cost millions, this will require considerable study to determine how we can satisfy the requirements of the State of Maryland at a cost the city can afford. This will require working closely with our county government because much of our drainage features are entwined.
Q: Do you think Hagerstown’s downtown can be truly “revitalized?” If so, what besides a new stadium, can the city do to spur the process?
A: I believe the City must take the lead to undertake projects that will serve to revitalize downtown. As in the past, this may require the purchase of certain properties to make improvements that will attract development. This approach has met with much success in the past such as the University System of Maryland building and plaza, the Bowman Development on South Potomac Street, the Swayne building on West Franklin Street and, more recently, the former CVS building on West Washington Street which is now being converted into classrooms for the University.
Q: Does Hagerstown have enough public safety personnel? If not, what changes would you make and how would you fund any increases?
A: I believe the current police and fire staffing levels are adequate to meet our existing needs. Recently the police department received grants for five additional officers and the City has created additional hiring incentives. The most significant problem is filling vacant positions created by retirements and job changes with replacements that have required training. I have always felt that we need a significant police presence in our downtown and would look for ways to fund additional officers for that reason. I believe that this would be of great benefit to our efforts to revitalize our center city.