Bath Council changes meeting days, hears Travel Berkeley Springs report
Town of Bath Council meetings will now be held the first and third Tuesdays of each month. Council voted unanimously to change the meeting day at the July 16 meeting.
Mayor Susan Webster said that too many holidays fall on Mondays causing meetings to be shifted to Tuesdays as the reason for the change. The next council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 7.
TBS Annual Report
Sally Marshall and Laura Smith of Travel Berkeley Springs presented their annual financial report to council. Marshall said that due to the closure of Coolfont and a tourist industry slowdown, income from hotel-motel taxes is estimated to be down $15,000 next year.
Marshall said TBS has adjusted their budget to account for the estimated income shortfall. Income is estimated to be $118,000 this year.
TBS gets approximately 15% of their hotel-motel tax income from the Town of Bath and 47% from Morgan County. Other income is from sales and grants.
Marshall said that 65% of the TBS budget goes for advertising to attract tourists. Much of that money is spent on advertisements in The Washington Post.
Marshall noted that more and more tourists are coming to the area from other parts of West Virginia, and from Winchester, Frederick and Hagerstown.
TBS will start a trial radio advertising campaign next June targeting the Hagerstown and Frederick areas.
"June is a dead month," Smith said talking about room occupancy.
Marshall said the www.berkeleysprings.com web site will start featuring local business men and women so that visitors might recognize them when they go into a store, stressing personal contact.
Marshall asked council not to raise the hotel-motel tax.
"We don't believe it is in the community's or industry's best interest to raise the tax," Marshall said. She mentioned that hotel-motel taxes in surrounding counties are as high as 11% and that both the town and county need to hold the line on cost increases to be competitive.
Marshall thanked the council and Parking Control Officer Gene Kilduff in particular, for addressing parking issues brought up in earlier meetings.
Former County Assessor Gary Goller asked council if they would allow him to improve streets bordering four lots he owns above the Health Department. Goller said he wanted to grade and clean up parts of Ewing, East Liberty, and Scaling streets.
Goller plans to build four duplex units on the lots to either rent or sell and needs better access to those lots. He said he was having the lots surveyed and was marking off the unimproved portions of the streets.
Webster referred the matter to the Public Works committee.
Chairman David Crosby asked council to hold a special meeting on July 24 at 9:15 a.m. to approve the next payment of $168,939.08 to water project contractors Thrasher Engineering and Cowgirl Up. Work is continuing on cutting and capping old water pipes. Three have already been capped along U.S. 522 and two more are in progress at Congress and Independence streets.
Police Chief James Minton told council that since the beginning of the year, police have responded to 404 calls within town. In addition, they have also had to conduct 167 record checks for various agencies. May, June and July have been the busiest months, Minton said.
Minton reported that three new parking meters are going to be installed in front of Hunter's Hardware on North Washington Street. He said the painting of "T" lines defining each metered parking space had been completed on town streets.
"We are being slammed with reports of kids riding skateboards and bicycles on sidewalks," Minton said. He asked council to amend the ordinance prohibiting riding on sidewalks to allow police to confiscate bikes and skateboards.
Minton warns that police are now conducting DUI patrols every Friday night in town.
Other council business
Elizabeth Perdue of the Public Service Commission is reviewing the town's water rate structure. She will make her recommendations in a couple of weeks.
The town is looking at a flat rate for everyone. Crosby said that the current rate structure is unfair.
"We have one rate ($9.30 per thousand gallons) for widows and orphans and another rate ($1.43 per thousand gallons) for big business," Crosby said. Crosby said he would like to see a more equitable rate structure.
Councilwoman Nancy Harvey who chairs the Ordinance Committee said she talked to Municipal Code Corporation (Municode) of Florida this week. Municode is rewriting the town's ordinance book. Harvey said she should have a draft in six weeks.
Councilman Kenny Easton said the amount of garbage collected has increased measurably. The biggest problem seems to be cardboard. Councilman Scott Merki suggested that council look for a place where businesses could recycle cardboard.