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Berkley Co. planners say they need help

February 03, 2000|By BRENDAN KIRBY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Planning Commission proposed a budget Thursday that includes money to hire another employee as it updates rules on new subdivisions and commercial developments.

The Planning Commission was among six organizations pitching budget proposals to the Berkeley County Commissioners Thursday.

The Planning Commission's request was the largest at $212,135 for fiscal year 2001, an increase of about 44 percent over this year's figure.

Much of that would pay the salary of an assistant planner who could perform routine duties while other staff members update the county's rules governing new development, Planning Administrator Harry L. "Sonny" Carter said. The position would be permanent.

With the additional employee, Carter predicted county staff could complete the job by March 2001.

County Commissioner Robert L. Burkhart scrutinized the rest of the budget proposal line by line.

He asked why the proposal includes $15,000 for "professional services" when the commission spent nothing on the item in fiscal 1999.

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Carter said it would allow the Planning Commission to hire engineers on an interim basis to keep up with projects in the fast-growing county during busy periods.

"A couple of times this year we got really backed up," he said.

Other requests considered by the county commissioners Thursday included:

- $60,000 from the county's general fund plus half of the county's hotel-motel tax for the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation Board. Steve Catlett, executive director of the board, said the $20,000 increase over this year's funding level would allow the department to expand recreational activities.

Burkhart said the agency can probably count on retaining 50 percent of the lodging tax.

"The rest of it, we'll have to take a look at," he said.

- $22,200 for the Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority. The money, a $1,000 increase from this year, would allow the agency to expand its recycling program, said Clint Hogbin, chairman of the authority.

- $1,000 for the Berkeley County Historic Landmarks Commission and $20,000 for the Berkeley County Historical Society. Don Wood, president of the Historical Society, said the money would be used to renovate and paint the childhood home of Civil War spy Belle Boyd.

- $1,500 to help pay for the annual Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival last year. The request would be $500 more than the commissioners gave last year.

- $700 to help pay for the Farmworker Food Pantry, a program for migrant workers run by the nonprofit Telamon Corp. Mary Ann Harrison, special projects coordinator for Telamon's West Virginia office, said the organization did not need funding from the county last year because it had other sources that have dried up this year.

The County Commission must approve a final budget near the end of March for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Last year, the commission slashed about $800,000 from agency requests to balance the budget.

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