Bath Town Council to raise hotel tax
The Town of Bath Council voted unanimously to approve the first reading of a modified ordinance that raises the hotel-motel tax from 3% to 4%.
A second reading and final vote will be held at the morning council meeting April 19. If the measure passes, Mayor Susan Webster said the new tax rate will take effect on May 1.
The vote came at the Tuesday evening, April 5 council meeting and was in response to a request to increase the tax from Travel Berkeley Springs. TBS requested the rate hike to make up for budget shortfalls caused by the economic downturn and uncollected back hotel-motel taxes owed by the Country Inn.
TBS receives half of the tax revenue collected from lodging establishments in the town and county. Stephanie Rebant and Jeanne Mozier were on hand representing TBS.
A joint public hearing with council members and the Morgan County Commission was held on March 18 in the courthouse where most lodging establishment owners spoke in favor of the tax increase.
“If the people who are most affected are for it, I think we should go along with it,” Councilman David Crosby said prior to the vote.
Train depot work to continue
John McCracken of the town’s Train Depot Committee presented a contract for the next step in the rehabilitation of the depot to council.
The contract is with the National Park Service’s Historical Preservation Training Center.
The work involves replacing rotting wood underneath the roof tiles that were removed last year.
The council previously approved an estimate for the repairs of $31,732. The contract with the Park Service also includes an additional $10,577 in administration costs bringing the total to $42,309.
McCracken explained this is the maximum cost and the preservation group will return to the town any funds not needed for the project.
The council voted unanimously to approve the expenditure from the town’s general funds. Webster said the Park Service’s bid was the only bid received from a qualified contractor.
Councilman Ryan Rebant said this was the first money spent by the town on the rehabilitation of the depot. Previous expenditures were all paid for by grants, Rebant said.
After the work is completed the roof tiles will be replaced. McCracken said that will require more funding and another contract.
The committee and town have applied for a $350,000 Transportation Enhancement Program grant from the state to complete the work on the exterior, interior and landscaping around the building, McCracken said.
After a motion by Rebant, the council voted McCracken their Volunteer of the Year.
New water taps
The town’s water committee decided to send out letters to people who are on the waiting list for a new water tap.
The West Virginia Public Service Commission ruled last month the town could connect the equivalent of 100 residential users to the water system.
Letters are being sent to the equivalent number of people on the top of the waiting list to see who is still interested and the town will work its way down the list from there, Webster said.
Street paving update
U.S. paving has given the town a quote of $7,440 for repaving Market Street in front of CNB Bank from Washington Street to Mercer Street and a quote for $5,330 for paving the bad area on Mercer Street near the intersection with Market Street.
Council members felt the quotes were reasonable but tabled the discussion until the next council meeting. Council members were concerned how the repaving project and the project to replace the retaining wall behind the bank might affect each other.
Councilman Kenny Easton said he would discuss the issues with CNB, U.S. Paving and contractor Dennis Shaffer.
The council appointed Jeremy Compton as one of their three representatives on the Parks & Recreation board. Gordon McLeod is the board’s secretary and also represents the town. One seat is still vacant.
Webster said she did not want to fill that seat with a member of council and would accept applications from interested individuals.
At a recent meeting of the Eastern Panhandle Transportation Authority, Webster said both her and Authority President Brenda Hutchinson emphasized the most needed transportation project for the county is a connector road from U.S. 522 to the new hospital.
A letter from the Foxglove Garden Club requested the removal of commercial newspaper boxes from the Fairfax Street square across from the courthouse. The letter said the commercial boxes detract from their work on gardens around the monuments.
Council agreed by common consent to have the boxes removed to the police station.