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City to give funds for turf

votes to raise B&O taxes

June 29, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Cobourn Field at Martinsburg High School will be closed to the public beginning Monday to allow for site work and installation of artificial turf, according to a press release from Jaimee Borger, director of communications for Berkeley County Schools.

The track and field are expected to remain off-limits until Aug. 24, according to the release.

In a related matter, the Martinsburg City Council in a special meeting Thursday voted to allocate $150,000 toward the turf project over two years.

In addition to the turf request, the council voted 6-0 to adopt an ordinance to increase business and occupation (B&O) taxes to the maximum allowed by state law, despite objections aired by two people in a public hearing held before the vote. Councilman Donald Anderson was absent.

The B&O rate increases applied across eight gross sales categories have been projected to generate about $1.5 million. The rate on a ninth category, amusements, could not be raised any further, according to state law.

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Berniece Collis of Minghini's General Contractors Inc. asked city leaders for some consideration to offset the increased burden, noting the family-owned business had nine projects at various stages of completion in the city.

"This tax is not business-friendly," Collis said after noting a nearly doubled tax rate increase on contractor revenues.

Bonnie Rockie, president of ArtBerkeley Inc., a nonprofit artists organization, described the tax as "regressive" and particularly harmful to she and others' effort to promote redevelopment of the downtown business district.

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