Berkeley Co. passes $10.7 million budget

March 26, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Commissioners passed a $10.7 million budget Thursday that puts $150,000 aside for a new court complex.

Offices in the current courthouse at King and Queen streets are cramped for space, and there is a possibility that another judge and magistrate could be added in Berkeley County, according to the commissioners.

There also is concern about the condition of the aging courthouse. At times, electric panel boxes in the courthouse become warm when power use is high in the building, said Commissioner John E. Wright.

"We have been talking about this for more than eight years. The time has come that we do something," said Wright.


The $150,000 is the first step toward saving money for a new courthouse. It could cost up to $20 million and require help from the private sector, said Wright.

A possibility could be having someone build the courthouse and lease it to the commissioners, Wright said.

Other highlights in the budget include $15,000 for four part-time court bailiffs, funding for four police cars and additional employees for the tax office, circuit clerk, prosecuting attorney, emergency services and central dispatch.

The budget includes a 3 percent property tax increase, but that will be offset by a school bond issue and levy that are phasing out, said County Administrator Deborah Sheetenhelm.

County taxpayers will not see any difference in their tax bills, Sheetenhelm said.

County officials are not sure when a new courthouse might be built.

Wright said the building could be located across the street from the courthouse where several buildings were torn down.

Wright said he would like to have a six-story building with one level reserved for parking. The building could include all the magistrate offices, which now are on John Street, said Wright.

The commissioners want to have workshop meetings in the coming year to decide how to proceed on a new courthouse, Sheetenhelm said.

"This is going to be a very involved project," she said.

The Herald-Mail Articles