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Hotel/motel tax decision tabled for six months

March 19, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- On a 2-1 vote Thursday, the Morgan County Commission put its proposed hotel-motel tax increase on hold until September.

Commission President Brenda J. Hutchinson said she wanted to see how the economy is in six months, and suggested the county occupancy tax discussion be resumed at the Sept. 10 meeting.

"I am willing to delay making a decision," Hutchinson said.

Commissioner Stacy A. Dugan said she also wanted to wait and made a motion. Hutchinson seconded it, but Commission Thomas R. Swaim said he was opposed to "only September" and wanted to wait a year before bringing it back.

"It does not mean we will vote on it and make a decision," Hutchinson said.

Before the vote, Bruce Beadenkopf, Morgan County Parks and Recreation acting director, asked the commission not to vote "until the economy gets better and to put it on hold." He said the Parks and Recreation board members voted Wednesday night to ask the commission to hold the vote.

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Hutchinson said there were many creative ideas at the public hearing from those who were opposed to raising the occupancy tax, and they should come forward to help Parks and Recreation.

She said Parks and Recreation does not want to be a maintenance group, but instead wants to provide new programs for the youth.

Hutchinson said the commission will pay for some maintenance such as the big concession stand's roof repair and the water treatment system at the girls softball field.

She said a good project for the lodging community is to help get the fields completed.

Stephanie Rebant, president of Travel Berkeley Springs, said she would like a specific meeting to get community involvement with that.

Beadenkopf said the Morgan County Little League has agreed to sign and abide by the contract with Parks and Recreation to pay the user fees, which are about $6,000 per year.

"Parks and Recreation is moving forward, and they don't need anyone to tell them what they are doing wrong," Hutchinson said.

Dugan said Parks and Recreation needs $28,000 for fencing, and she hopes to see the lodging industry at the April 4 fundraiser at the American Legion. They also need donated items for the silent auction.

Rebant said she wanted a better relationship with Parks and Recreation.

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