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Travel group wants Morgan Co. to increase lodging tax

February 20, 2011|By TRISH RUDDER | trishr@herald-mail.com

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. — Local tourism agency Travel Berkeley Springs requested that Morgan County increase the hotel/motel tax by 1 percent, which will be used to keep the organization running and for the advertising needed to promote the county.

At the Morgan County Commission meeting on Thursday, Jeanne Mozier, a Travel Berkeley Springs board member, said the lodging industry supports the increase.

A 3 percent hotel/motel tax was adopted in Morgan County in 1989 and “is still what it has been,” Mozier said. The state law allows the tax to go as high as 6 percent.

One-half of the collected hotel/motel tax revenues go to Travel Berkeley Springs and the other half is used to support designated local organizations.

“Best Western is behind the 1 percent increase,” said Larry Omps, who operates the motel.

“You have a right to give TBS one-half of the 1 percent — to give a portion of it. You have that right to do that,” he said.
 
“That is something we can certainly think about,” Commission President Stacy A. Dugan said.
 
Travel Berkeley Springs President Stephanie Rebant said the occupancy tax did not come in, budget cuts were made and “it was a very difficult year,” she said.

Mozier said Travel Berkeley Springs has not had the funds to advertise and has not paid its one employee since November.

Commissioner Bradley J. Close said he would not support the 1 percent increase unless the Town of Bath adopts the increase as well.

Mozier agreed. “The town and county have to be the same,” she said.
 
TBS will meet with the Bath Town Council at its March 1 meeting to request a 1 percent increase in the hotel/motel tax, Mozier said.

“Collection needs to be made,” Close said regarding the outstanding tax revenues that are owed to the Town of Bath.

Mozier commended Bath Police Chief Craig A. Pearrell for his efforts in the collection of the outstanding taxes due to the town, and she commended the county for tightening its collection efforts.

Commissioner Brenda J. Hutchinson said the county will make a decision at the March 3 commission meeting depending on what the Town of Bath decides.

A public hearing on the 1 percent hotel/motel increase is scheduled for March 16 at 7 p.m., Dugan said.

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