Commissioners approve online tax payment system, divvy up $330K in lodging tax

by Kate Shunney

To comply with a state mandate for counties to take online tax payments, Morgan County commissioners have agreed to pay Software Systems, Inc. $10,625 to set up the payment capability for the Sheriff’s Tax Office. Their vote took place at their July 19 monthly meeting.

The tax office accepts real estate and personal property tax payments, plus payment of the county’s Ambulance Fee and Fire Fee.

Commission President Sean Forney said he was in favor of taking online payments but didn’t like the state forcing the process onto counties without helping them pay for it.

County property owners received their 2023 tax bills in the mail last week. Online tax payments will be available in the coming weeks, said tax office employees.

Hotel/Motel budget

In other business, the Morgan County Commissioners approved a $330,000 budget for Hotel/Motel tax distribution for this year. County officials had $382,000 worth of requests for the money, which comes from a 6% lodging tax on rooms and vacation rentals in Morgan County.

Commissioners can allocate the funds for local groups engaged in beautification efforts, recreation activities, historical preservation, arts and cultural events.

The following allocations were approved:

–Morgan County Parks & Recreation ($36,000)

–Morgan Arts Council ($25,000)

–Public July 4 fireworks ($5,000)

–Streetscapes improvements ($15,000)

–Civil War Trail ($800)

–Cacapon State Park foundation trail maintenance ($5,000)

–Foxglove Garden Club for stone wall project ($6,000)

–Foxglove Garden Club public gardens ($4,700)

–Mowing for public parks ($21,500)

–Christmas in Bath ($1,500)

–Spruce Pine Hollow Park ($5,000)

— Star Community Center –two events ($2,000)

— South Morgan Volunteer Fire Company for carnival fireworks ($3,500)

–Grant match for Federal Land Access Program ($82,000)

–Bath Cemetery Corp. for Greenway Cemetery mowing ($12,000)

–Purchase of Rankin’s Fitness Center for public facility ($50,000)

–Grant match for Town of Bath park grant ($55,000).

Groups can apply for the Hotel/Motel funds through an application process handled by the Morgan County Commission office. The deadline to apply is May 1 of each year.

Sheriff’s requests

Sheriff K.C. Bohrer introduced the county’s new Prevention Resource (PRO) Officer for Morgan County Schools, Deputy Paul McFarland. McFarland, who has 28 years of law enforcement experience in Virginia, will take PRO training for West Virginia schools at the end of this month, said Sheriff Bohrer. McFarland will replace Cpl. Kevin Barney, who served as the county’s first and only PRO officer until the end of the last school year.

Deputy Paul McFarland stands with Morgan County Sheriff K.C. Bohrer at the July 19 County Commission meeting. McFarland was introduced to the commissioners as the new Prevention Resource (PRO) Officer for Morgan County Schools.

Sheriff Bohrer asked commissioners to approve his proposal to promote Deputy Jesse Hedrick to the rank of Corporal in the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department. Bohrer said Civil Service testing, needed for the promotion, took place last month. Hedrick has been a deputy with the county for two years, coming to the department from Monongalia County.

Sheriff Bohrer asked commissioners to approve $1,500 in funding for data extraction software for a new traffic trailer that shows motorists’ speeds along county roadways. The traffic monitor equipment came to the county at no costs, said the Sheriff. He recommended getting the data software to be able to analyze traffic patterns for better deployment of deputies. Commissioners approved the payment to All Traffic Solutions for the software.

Emergency paging system bids

Commissioners received two bids to replace their emergency paging system for fire and EMS but have not chosen a vendor for that system yet.

At Wednesday’s meeting, 911 Director Marshall Younker opened two bids – one from G Tech of Augusta and one from Motorola Solutions. G Tech proposed replacing the paging system at a cost of $424,115. Motorola’s proposal was in the amount of $1,484,530. A group of emergency services officials will evaluate the two proposals and return a recommendation to the commissioners. This is the third round of bidding for the paging system replacement. Younker explained that in addition to alerting volunteers and first responders to emergency calls, the paging system also sets off sirens and tones and activates certain equipment at fire stations.

In other business, commissioners approved a $2,000 contribution to the Back to School Bash run by Morgan County Parks & Recreation. The event, set for August 11, gives families school supplies for their students, offers free haircuts and a free farmer’s market, along with community group information.