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Martinsburg budget to hold line on taxes

March 27, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Martinsburg City Council on Thursday approved a $27.6 million budget plan for the 2009-10 fiscal year that doesn't include a tax increase, but residents might very well be asked to pay more in garbage fees later this spring.

The city council unanimously voted to authorize the preparation of an ordinance to increase sanitation fees.

Residents who receive a discounted rate for paying their bills within 20 days of the billing date could be asked to pay $5.74 more per month or $68.88 per year, according to a draft of proposed increases reviewed by the council's Budget and Finance Committee earlier this month.

About 80 percent of the customers take advantage of the 18 percent discount program, City Finance Director Mark B. Spickler said.

Without the discount, the regular rate for sanitation service would increase by $7 per month and $84 per year. Dumpster (3-cubic yard size) rates would increase by $250 per weekly pickup, if the ordinance is adopted.

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The increase was needed to maintain the sanitation department as a "self-supporting" operation of the city, Spickler said. The city department needs new sanitation and recycling trucks and also must pay for the increase in dumping fees at North Mountain landfill that were recently approved by the West Virginia Public Service Commission, Spickler said.

The last flat rate increase took effect in July 2007, Spickler said. Even with the proposed increase, residents pay their bill early for twice-weekly pickup service would still pay less than county residents, Spickler said. The city's sanitation department also includes a curbside recycling pickup as part of the service, he noted.

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