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Berkeley County briefs

March 06, 2009

Tax increase eyed as option for balancing budget



MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Commission decided this week to preserve the option of enacting a levy rate increase to help balance the county government's budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

A public hearing to receive input from residents who could receive higher tax bills as a result of the increase is scheduled for March 24 at 6:30 p.m.

The County Commission planned to meet in public session next week with the county's prosecutor, sheriff, assessor, circuit clerk and county clerk to discuss their budget requests. The individual sessions were scheduled to begin Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Commissioners said this week that proposed spending for the 2009-10 fiscal year is expected to exceed anticipated tax revenue generated by the current levy rates.

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Commissioner William L. "Bill" Stubblefield said Thursday he believed any proposed levy increase would amount to little more than the cost of a pack of cigarettes for property owners.

Air show nixed for 2009



MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Organizers of the Martinsburg Air Show have nixed efforts to stage the event again this year at Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport, citing the economic downturn and a lack of available major acts.

Airport Authority chairman Richard "Rick" Wachtel said Friday the challenge of obtaining sponsors for the event would have been difficult.

"It's an expensive proposition to put it on," Wachtel said.

Last year, the air show committee reported nearly $100,000 in online and gate ticket sales and $59,900 in sponsorships from the two-day event in September 2008. Expenses were about $132,000, according to preliminary numbers included in the Airport Authority board meeting minutes for November.

United Way of the Eastern Panhandle was designated to receive proceeds from the event's $36,583 profit. The Airport Authority approved $3,580 from the profit for air show committee member Nic Diehl and airport manager William E. "Bill" Walkup to attend the International Council of Air Shows conference in Las Vegas in December 2008.

Diehl said Friday he learned some of the major acts would not be available for Martinsburg this year because of scheduled appearances at Washington, D.C., area shows.

Diehl said the air show committee was working with the 167th Airlift Wing of Air National Guard based at the airport to stage a 2010 show. Diehl said they are hoping to bring in the Air Force Thunderbirds or the Navy Blue Angels.

Wachtel said the 2008 show attracted about 40,000 people over two days.

After first organizing an air show in 2005, airport runway capital improvements prevented shows in 2006 and 2007.

- Matthew Umstead

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