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Travel concerns aired at commission meeting

July 09, 2005|by TRISH RUDDER

trishr@herald-mail.com

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - The president of Travel Berkeley Springs met with the Morgan County Commission on Friday to present financial information for fiscal year 2004-05 and issues for the current year.

Sally Marshall told the commission that the county hotel/motel tax revenues for the year had decreased by 12 percent "and will decrease again this year."

Marshall said travel and visitors "are up, but overnight stay is down." She said "we can expect it to remain down" due to higher living costs and gas price increases.

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She said Travel Berkeley Springs does not recommend an increase to the 3 percent hotel/motel tax the West Virginia Legislature approved in the spring. The tax might be increased up to 6 percent statewide.

She also said at the annual travel industry membership and board meeting there was concern raised about truck traffic on U.S. 522, the main thoroughfare through town.

"The travel industry's concern is even if a bypass comes about, it will be between five to eight years away," Marshall said. "The industry is interested in short-term solutions."

Marshall suggested more speeding tickets be given out by police and limiting hours of truck traffic through town.

Commissioner Bob Ford said it would be "very selfish for the commission to say they want to ban trucks." The drivers are supporting their families, he said.

"The trucking industry realizes things they can do to better it - no speeding, jake braking or idling for five minutes only, no overnight idling," Ford said.

There is a Share the Highway program to address those issues, and Travel Berkeley Springs should talk with them, Ford said.

Marshall said the travel industry also is concerned about the economic impact the town's pipe replacement project will have on business.

She said once the town streets are torn up, everything should be coordinated that involves new lighting, more sidewalks and street repairs before "putting it back together."

"There ought to be a cooperative effort," Commission President Glen Stotler said. "The county has a lot of real estate and we would like to do our part."

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