Ilene Veasel, who co-owns the post office building, said before the meeting that her group decided not to renew the lease because of uncertainty about the property. The county executive offered to lease the site to the post office rent-free for two years, and a post office spokeswoman said it was still evaluating the offer.

Owners of Kendall Hardware, which is next to the site, worry they would lose the entry into their back lot, which they use for storage and large truck deliveries.

Ball also asked about raising the issue with a 15-member commission that is required to review the county's charter every eight years. Fox said he would have brought up the issue before, but at the time he was unsure how to proceed.

"I hope they will add it to their list of discussion items," Fox said. But he added that "we're going to have a public discussion" in the council.

The council will also review a resolution amending rules for a down-payment loan program, such as requiring a minimum debt ratio of 45 percent, requiring the house to be used as a primary residence, using the loans in combination with other loans and using the loan program to pay for certain discount fees.

Stacy Spann, director of the county's housing department, said the program's funding has increased from just over $100,000 to about $500,000 this year after the county's budget improved.

"The budget was extremely tight last year," he said, adding that demand had not been strong, but now "we are seeing more interest."

Last year, he said, the program assisted eight families and this year they are hoping to help 15 to 20.

The council will also review a resolution to streamline the role of the Ethics Commission with regard to state laws related to information disclosed by county officials, provisions related to gifts and other requirements.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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