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Mayor Hoover to Seek Second Term

Pamela Rigaux
Frederick News Post

(4/8) When Mayor James Hoover was appointed to the town commission in 1998, Emmitsburg had to borrow money to meet its financial obligations.

"That hasn't happened since," Mr. Hoover said. "We've been able to generate money and save on our `rainy day' fund."

Mr. Hoover is running for re-election April 26 against Commissioner Art Elder and resident Dr. Stanley Mazaleski.

Mr. Hoover was elected mayor in 2002. In January, he was appointed by Gov. Robert Ehrlich as deputy director of MARC Train and Commuter Bus Service operations. Mr. Hoover said he heads to work in Baltimore at 4:30 a.m. so he can be back in Emmitsburg by 3 p.m. to serve the town's needs.

Mr. Hoover credits Emmitsburg's financial improvements to the ingenuity of his staff. That, and staff recruitment are among his greatest achievements, he said, and if he's re-elected, the town's upward trend would continue.

"In the last three years, I've created a lot of relationships with federal, state and county officials" to help get funding to improve the town's water and sewer lines, Mr. Hoover said. "We have been successful."

The town staff obtained two grants totaling nearly $1 million for several projects, some involving new or improved water and sewer lines.

The town is applying subsidized loans to water and sewer lines and the water line on Mountainview Road is nearly done, Mr. Hoover said.

"When using state and federal money, the process is slow," he said. "Everyone has a chance to accept and review your plans."

Looking to the future, he said the town is eligible for up to $300,000 in state grants to build a sewer replacement line on South Seton Avenue.

Under Mr. Hoover's leadership, the town instituted a policy of surcharges and tap fees designed to produce funds that could be put aside for water and sewer line improvements. One fund the staff created, the enterprise fund, "doesn't make a proft," Mr. Hoover said. "But it generates money for the future need."

The town didn't raise taxes, but Mr. Hoover admits that developers typically add surcharges to the price of real estate, which means homeowners absorb the costs when they buy houses.

The town brought its development rates up-to-date. Several years ago, developers were required to pay the town $20 to review a plan that was costing the town $200 to $300 to study. "We adjusted our rates," Mr. Hoover said. "They vary depending on the size of the project."

The staff is effective, he said. "We are the smallest town of our size that has a professional planner." By having the position, the town manager can focus on. financial projects.

Over the last year, the staff's momentum has been curtailed by an ethics investigation of two commissioners based on the complaints of local business-men. Regardless of who is right, Mr. Hoover said the investigation has taken an undue amount of the staff's time.

As a manager, Mr. Hoover stands by his staff, he said. He makes committee recommendations and is disappointed the commissioners did not accept Pat Boyle for the Board of Appeals three weeks ago.

"He's more than qualified," Mr. Hoover said. "But the board gave him no consideration, nothing."

Mr. Hoover grew up Baltimore's inner city. A decade ago, he and his family moved to Emmitsburg, where he said neighborhoods were more family-oriented and homeland security, not home security, is the issue.

Mr. Hoover worked with Mount St. Mary's University staff to establish an emergency warning system.

"In town we have three sirens," he said. In an emergency, residents will hear an alarm, then a voice announcement. "We went to Frederick County and spoke to the county commissioners," Mr. Hoover said. His staff obtained the county commissioners' approval to link the town's warning system to the central dispatch.

"The Fire Academy can tie into it," he said. "Any other municipality can put an emergency system in at no extra cost."