SNOW HILL – Snow Hill Mayor Stephen Mathews approached the County Commissioners Tuesday requesting a written opinion on whether or not Snow Hill should no longer exist as a municipality.
The commissioners decided to draft such a letter after unanimously agreeing that they did not believe the town should become unincorporated.
The issue arose when Snow Hill resident Gary Weber made it clear that he planned on circulating a petition amongst citizens asking for Snow Hill to cease government on the municipal level and to fall directly under the county’s supervision. Weber claimed that he believed this would result in fewer taxes and an expanded level of service from county employees.
However, both Mathews and the commissioners disagreed with Weber’s assessment. Specifically, Mathews expects that costs for agencies, such as the police department, could skyrocket, while crime response times would simultaneously plummet due to Snow Hill having to rely on sheriff’s deputies instead of its own force.
Mathews stated that there would likely be other pitfalls if Snow Hill became unincorporated, including issues with water and sewage and street service. He therefore asked that the commissioners draft a letter, which, in addition to one he’s writing himself, could serve to educate citizens of Snow Hill about the subject.
Commissioner Virgil Shockley suggested that the letter outline the basic statistics that Snow Hill would be facing if it was dissolved.
“I think we should be factual in the letter…that we should lay the costs out,” he said.
His fellow commissioners agreed.
Commissioner Judy Boggs commended Mathews on not ignoring the possibility of the grassroots impact Weber’s petition might have.
“You’re wise not to take it for granted,” said Boggs.
Mathews stated that he paid a lot of attention to the issue.
“There was a December many years ago when people didn’t think Pearl Harbor would happen either,” joked Mathews, referring to the fact that, while it was unlikely the town would be unincorporated, it wasn’t impossible.
Shockley explained that it wasn’t even all that unlikely, as only 20 percent of Snow Hill’s approximately 1,500 voters would need to sign the petition to take the matter to referendum. If it went that far, it would require a simple majority vote to become finalized.
Mathews was asked if he might be able to talk to Weber, point out the possible negative consequences of his petition and convince him to stop.
“I’ve talked to him on many occasions,” said Mathews. “Let me rephrase that. I’ve listened to him on many occasions.”
Mathews went on to say that he could not sway Weber and that the only ones who might are his fellow citizens.
Besides the economic troubles becoming unincorporated could present, Mathews stressed the fact that Snow Hill was the oldest incorporated town in Worcester County and one of the oldest in Maryland.
When asked if the petition was already circulating, Mathews informed the commissioners that Weber was waiting until after the holidays to release it.
Commission President Bud Church gave Mathews some advice on what to do before the petition went out to the public.
“I recommend the Mayor and Council send a lot of Season’s Greetings cards,” joked Church.