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Hotel-motel tax hike considered

January 23, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Morgan County Parks & Recreation is in need of funds, "or we will have to turn it over to the Morgan County Commission to run," according to acting director Bruce Beadenkopf.

Beadenkopf and Parks & Recreation president Kenny Mason met with the commission Thursday to see if the county's 3 percent hotel-motel tax could be increased.

The 3 percent tax is allowed by the state to be increased to 6 percent. The lodging tax is paid by those who visit the area, and the money is used to promote tourism and programs such as parks and recreation. Half of the collected funds go to Travel Berkeley Springs.

Beadenkopf said Parks & Recreation has asked the Morgan County Board of Education and the Town of Bath for help.

The Board of Education increased funding from $10,000 to $25,000, but the money will not be available until 2010, Mason said.

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Travel Berkeley Springs President Stephanie Rebant said the nearly 100 members of the local tourism industry oppose any increase in the current 3 percent tax.

Commissioner Stacy A. Dugan, a board member of Parks & Recreation, said she did not want to see the department go under.

"Is there any compromise?" Dugan asked.

Wayne Omps, who said he was against raising the tax at this time, said, "Yes, we can compromise."

Rebant said she wanted to compromise when economic times are better.

Commission President Brenda J. Hutchinson said the projects listed by Parks & Recreation are a lot of repairs and maintenance that need to be performed before spring. She suggested Beadenkopf and Mason meet with Travel Berkeley Springs to see if there is a way they can help each other.

Mason said he was in favor of meeting with Travel Berkeley Springs.

"We can't turn our backs on these kids," he said.

The discussion will continue at the Feb. 5 meeting, Hutchinson said.

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