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Town of Bath taxes look to be going up

March 10, 2006|by TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. Property owners in the Town of Bath will likely be paying 9 percent more than last year on the portion of their taxes which goes to the town.

The Bath Town Council unanimously approved raising the town levy rate to 12 percent for fiscal year 2006-07 on Thursday, but another vote on it will be taken after the public hearing at the next council meeting March 23.

The town property evaluation increased to $36,760,000 from $29,989,000, a jump of 20 percent over last year.

Last year's levy rate was 3 percent, and the town has not raised the tax more than 3 percent since 1994, Councilwoman Garnet Marsh said.

A levy rate of more than 3 percent requires a public hearing.

Marsh said "the Finance Committee is recommending the town's levy rate be set at 12 percent," the maximum allowed by the state.

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"This will provide additional revenue of $9,703," Marsh said. The estimated real estate property tax revenue for the town is $96,810, she said.

"Leaving it at 3 percent leaves the town in a less-than-break-even situation and no way to pay for an emergency," she said.

A "sinking" fund or emergency fund is to be set up, she said. The money will be used for emergencies and she recommends at least two council member signatures on the checks to withdraw funds.

Marsh said the Finance Committee has been looking for ways to cut costs and it will continue. "Everything is up for review," she said.

Marsh said the high price of gasoline this year was not budgeted and created a hardship on the town.

"The town needs to be able to pay for a snow emergency, or if a homeland security emergency is in D.C. and people travel to Berkeley Springs, there is no money to pay for the police officers to direct traffic."

The Town of Bath is the local government inside Berkeley Springs.

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