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Morgan County OKs property tax increase

November 30, 1999|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. ? The Morgan County Commission voted unanimously Friday to approve a 9 percent county property tax increase for fiscal year 2007-08 to pay for a $4 million revenue bond to help rebuild the Morgan County Courthouse.

Commission President Glen R. Stotler said the tax increase "is about a 9 percent increase on the county's share" of the tax dollars.

The courthouse estimate for rebuilding is more than $12 million, and the county only has $4 million in insurance, he said.

Stotler said by going with the 9 percent tax increase, "it generates about $235,000 a year, which gives us the ability to pay back the $4 million revenue bond for 30 years."

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"If we don't go to this point, all we have is $4 million to rebuild," he said. "We don't have the means to go back."

About 75 percent of each tax dollar goes toward West Virginia school funding and about 25 percent goes to Morgan County, Stotler said.

Fire destroyed the circa-1908 courthouse on Aug. 8, 2006.

"In my heart, I don't want to pass (the tax increase), but I think we have to," Commissioner Thomas R. Swaim said. "We will be able to at least build an $8 million courthouse."

When asked if funding would come from the West Virginia Legislature, Stotler said when other counties had flood damage, "the Legislature stepped right up and bailed them out."

"I think the Legislature should have helped us out," he said.

Stotler said an additional $4 million bond levy will have to be approved by Morgan County voters if funding is not forthcoming from the Legislature.

The alternative to the tax increase would have been getting an $8 million bond levy approved by Morgan County voters, he said.

Commissioner Brenda J. Hutchinson said she was concerned about putting more financial pressure on the citizens, but wanted to "make sure we get the money" to at least build an $8 million courthouse.

Stotler said Gov. Joe Manchin's office called recently and requested a meeting with the commission on April 11 in Berkeley Springs.

Stotler said the governor will be in town on other business and wanted to meet him while he was here.

The budget is due to the state by March 28, Morgan County Clerk Debra Kesecker said.

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