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Martinsburg City Council adopts 'really tight budget'

There are no tax hikes in the new appropriation

March 26, 2013|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Martinsburg Mayor George Karos called it a “really tight budget” Monday night following a 20-minute City Council meeting at which the members adopted a 2013-14 budget that came in about $100,000 higher than the current year.

There are no tax hikes in the new appropriation.

Real estate values dropped for the sixth year in a row along with a corresponding drop in what the city collects in business and occupation taxes, Karos said.

The new general fund budget is $14,025,000. Also part of the overall budget are water and sewer, $6.3 million; sanitation, $3.2 million; police levy, $4.1 million; fire and EMS, $1.75 million; parking, $500,000 and coal severance tax, $83,000.

The general fund budget for fiscal 2012-13, which ends June 30, is $13.9 million, said Mark B. Spickler, the city’s finance director. “Revenue is about the same as last year,” he said. “This is a budget stalemate.

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Hopefully it will bottom out this year.”

While the new budget makes no provision for raises for city employees, Karos held out a ray of hope. He said things could improve enough after first-quarter taxes.

The seven-member council, with all members present, also earmarked the city’s share of the federal Community Development Block Grant funds.

Topping the list at $97,890 was the Church Street-area stormwater project.

The Girls & Boys Club of the Eastern Panhandle will get $53,815 to build a basketball court for the gym at its Martinsburg location. The club’s match is $20,000.

Other recipients include:

  • C-CAP emergency rental assistance program, $5,000
  • Court Appointed Special Advocates, $5,000
  • Safe Haven Child Advocacy Center, $5,000
  • Berkeley County Meals on Wheels, $3,000
  • Boys & Girls Club memberships for low-income households, $5,000
  • Shenandoah Women’s Center, $5,000
  • Berkeley Senior Services, $5,000
  • Community Networks, Inc., $1,200
  • General administration and planning of the grants, $46,476

The council also approved the following funds for the three-county Eastern Panhandle’s Home Program, which is administered by the City of Martinsburg.

  • Homebuyer Assistance Program, $219,256
  • Morgan County Tenant Assistance Program, $5,000
  • General Administration and Planning, $29,901
  • Community Housing Development Organizations, $44,852
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