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Berkeley County voters asked to aprove park/recreation levy

May 04, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Voting "yes" next week on a Parks & Recreation levy will ensure Berkeley County continues to have a high quality of life, said Steve Catlett, director of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation.

Preserving green space is important since more and more of it is being filled with houses, he said.

"What are we doing to protect that?" Catlett said.

For the levy to go into effect, at least 60 percent of the county's voters must vote in favor of it in the May 11 primary election.

Parks & Recreation officials are asking for 1 cent for every $100 of assessed Class II property, meaning the owners of a $100,000 home would pay $6 a year. Taxes are based on 60 percent of a house's appraised value.

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Expected to generate around $312,000 a year, the levy would take effect on July 1, 2005, and would remain in place for four years.

Of the $312,000 raised annually, $217,000 would be used to expand, improve and develop parks and recreational facilities. The remaining $95,000 would be used for operating expenses, including maintenance of existing and additional facilities, such as buying supplies or paying for necessary services, according to information about the levy previously provided to the Berkeley County Commissioners.

Because money from the levy would not become available until the fall of 2005, Catlett said he could not predict exactly which projects would be funded first, should the levy be approved.

Parks & Recreation officials oversee operations at 16 parks in the county and city, including War Memorial Park, Poor House Farm Park and a soccer field complex in Falling Waters.

One idea is creation of a four-field softball complex for adults, Catlett said. The current fields in Pikeside may be lost because of plans to expand the nearby airport runway.

Additional money is being sought through other avenues, meaning taxpayer money could be matched to provide $500,000 to $600,000 a year, Catlett said.

Although Parks & Recreation officials have not yet had to purchase an acre, that might soon change, Catlett said.

"Once it's developed it's never going to be open space again," he said.

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