CSX lot was appraised for $266,900
Councilman Andy Swaim reported to the Town of Bath Council at their Tuesday evening, March 20 meeting that the lot behind the train depot has been appraised for $266,900.
CSX Corporation has promised to cede ownership of the lot to the town once the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection signs off on CSX’s cleanup of the site.
The town wants to take possession of the three acre-plus lot after receiving a notice to proceed with construction from the state on a $304,264 Transportation Enhancement Program grant to rehabilitate the train depot.
In that way, the town can use part of the appraised value of the lot as matching funds required by the grant. The grant requires a 25 percent match, or about $76,000.
Budget nearly complete
Swaim also discussed the budget for fiscal year 2012-2013 due to the state auditor by the end of the month.
The budget will include a three percent increase for town employees. Police Chief Craig Pearrell had submitted a request for police officers to be put on a separate pay scale that he submitted, but the town did not adopt his proposal.
Mayor Susan Webster said the council will revisit police pay scales at a later date.
The mayor and council struggled with whether to include hotel-motel tax estimates from The Country Inn in the budget. Webster and Town Clerk Debra Peck called the state auditor’s office on Wednesday, March 21 to get clarification.
The Country Inn is in default on a court ordered judgment and has missed payments of back hotel-motel taxes in December, January and February totaling $35,500. The Inn has also failed to keep up with or even report monthly hotel-motel taxes.
State Auditor Shellie Humphrey instructed the town not to include hotel-motel tax estimates for the Inn in the budget.
Asked about the fact the Country Inn is in violation of state code and a court judgment, Mayor Susan Webster said, “The law is one thing and the reality about what is happening another.”
Police safety program
Bath Police Officer T.J. Johnson has come up with a program for local businesses to insure owners can be notified when emergencies happen after hours.
Johnson explained that most owners live out of town and the only telephone number the 911 emergency call center has in many cases is the number of the business itself.
“If a business gets broken into after hours, we have got to be able to get in touch with somebody,” Johnson said.
He will be going around to town businesses with a contact form to be filled out and filed with police and the 911 center.
In other police business, the council discussed what to do about people parking
illegally across North Mercer Street from the Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Department, making it difficult for the large fire engines to turn when coming out of the building responding to a call.
Some of the violators are county employees including Sheriff’s Department cruisers.
There are no parking meters and only one no parking sign in that area along the curb.
Webster instructed Pearrell to begin ticketing violators. “We will do what is necessary in front of the fire department to prevent accidents,” Webster said.
The council also decided to have the town street crew look into more signs and a red plastic stripe to paste on that section of the curb.
Billing change proposed
Chief Water Operator Terry Largent proposed moving the quarterly water bills to a monthly billing cycle.
He said a monthly billing cycle will allow the water works to detect leaks faster and save money when customers move and skip out on their final water bill. He said there is over $42,000 in uncollectable water bills on the books.
Changing the billing cycle requires approval by the West Virginia Public Service Commission. The council instructed Largent to put together the required documents.
Relay for Life
Joann Blankley of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life said she wanted to “paint the town purple” for the event. She asked if police could put purple ribbons that she would provide on each of the town’s 110 parking meters. Permission was granted.
The event will be held on June 8 from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. the following morning at Widmyer Elementary School track.
Former Councilwoman Nancy Harvey gave the council a compact disk of the town’s recently re-codified ordinances. When on council, Harvey worked for months on a project to have town ordinances modernized and codified to bring them up to date and to coordinate them with state code. The electronic version will be kept at the town office.
A candlelight vigil will be held on April 21 in Berkeley Springs State Park from 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. to raise awareness about addiction and drug abuse. The vigil is being sponsored by the Morgan County Partnership. Mayor Webster will be the keynote speaker at the event.
The council approved a letter of appreciation to West Virginia Regional Planning Engineer Alanna Slack for her help with submitting an application for a TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant for both the town and county.
If approved, the grant will provide $11 million; $2 million for town streetscape improvements and $9 million for a county connector road between U.S. 522 and the new War Memorial Hospital on Fairview Drive.
Larry Lower, who is the co-chair for the Streetscape Project, was selected as the Town of Bath’s Volunteer of the Year.