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Martinsburg to hold May 11 election on renewing police levy

March 01, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Martinsburg will hold a special election May 11 to ask voters to decide whether to renew the city's police levy.

Martinsburg City Council in a special meeting Thursday voted 4-1 to adopt an ordinance providing for the special Saturday election after holding a public hearing on the issue.

Ward 5 Councilman Jason Baker, who pushed to have the levy question added to the 2014 primary election ballot to reduce election costs, voted against adoption of the ordinance. Ward 4 Councilman Roger Lewis and at-large Councilman Gregg Wachtel were absent.

If renewed, the owner of a residential property valued at $100,000 would receive a $63 tax bill, officials have said. The tax bill for a commercial property valued at $100,000 would be double that amount.

Based on assessed property values for 2012, the levy is projected to generate $1,083,217, but that revenue figure likely will fluctuate over the levy’s five-year span given anticipated changes in the real
estate market, city Finance Director Mark Spickler has said.

The Martinsburg Police Department’s roster has swelled from 29 to 50 officers since voters first approved the levy, which first went into effect in 1990. The levy provides funding for nine of the 21 positions that have been added to the department.

The levy is set to expire June 30, 2014, unless it is renewed.  To be renewed, the excess levy question has to be approved by at least 60 percent of voters.

The special election is expected to cost about $60,000, officials have said.

The revenue is used to pay for the nine officers’ salaries, benefits, uniforms, equipment, vehicles and other items needed to maintain staffing. Any excess funding is used exclusively for police department
operations, according to the ordinance.

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