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Hearing on hotel/motel tax hike set

February 12, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - The Morgan County Commission voted 2-1 Thursday to hold a meeting for public comments regarding the proposal to increase the hotel/motel tax to 6 percent from 3 percent beginning July 1, 2010.

The public hearing is set for Monday, March 2 at 7 p.m. at the Berkeley Springs High School auditorium or at Warm Springs Middle School if the high school is not available.

Commissioner Stacy A. Dugan made the motion for the public hearing and Commission President Brenda J. Hutchinson seconded it.

Commissioner Thomas R. Swaim opposed the public hearing. "I think it's wrong to raise it now or even in 2010," Swaim said.

Swaim said he was not opposed to raising the tax "at a better time."

"It's never going to be a good time," Hutchinson said.

The ordinance will include new language that is in the West Virginia Code in Section 3 under Permissible Expenditures: "The construction, operation, or maintenance of public parks, tourist information centers, recreation facilities, including land acquisition;" and add "(f) historic sites; or (g) beautification projects."

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Bruce Beadenkopf, acting director, and Kenny Mason, president of Morgan County Parks and Recreation Department, met with the commissioners last month to ask that the county's 3 percent hotel/motel tax could be increased because the organization is in need of funds for repairs and maintenance and for future projects.

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.

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

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