Hotel tax issue out of council’s hands
The Town of Bath’s February 1 deadline for overdue hotel/motel tax payments came and went without receipt of any money or reports, according to town officials.
Last month, three lodging businesses inside the town limits were sent letters demanding compliance with the town’s Hotel/Motel Tax ordinance, which requires monthly reports and payments.
None responded, and the town is still owed more than $30,000 in back taxes from motels and inns that have collected the 3% tax from their guests but failed to remit the money to the town.
The tax revenue is meant to be divided between Travel Berkeley Springs and community groups engaged in cultural, historical or recreational projects.
Mayor Susan Webster said she was contacted by one business after the town council demanded action on the tax delinquencies. The business owner notified the town that it now has legal representation and wanted to meet with her.
Webster said the matter is now in the hands of the Prosecuting Attorney Debra McLaughlin and Police Chief Craig Pearrell.
Pearrell said his investigation is still underway and may still result in charges against the businesses.
Longer farm market
In other business, the council approved an extended schedule for the Berkeley Springs Farmer’s Market for 2011.
Market officials approached the town about starting sales on Fairfax Street on the first Sunday in April instead of May this year. The market would then run until late November. Before, the market ended at Halloween.
Larry Lower, market board member, said the Thursday farm market on lower Fairfax Street would be shortened – starting in late June and ending in mid-September.
Council members approved the change, though Chief Pearrell asked how long the market would continue to operate on Fairfax Street. During market hours, the street is at least partially blocked to traffic.
Lower said the future of the Farmer’s Market may include a permanent site, but that the decision to hold the market on a public street was meant to make it more attractive to locals and visitors.
Retaining wall design
The engineer in charge of the town’s water pipe project presented another estimate for his company to deal with the buckling retaining wall behind CNB Bank downtown.
Randy Watson of Thrasher Engineering said a second wall could be built near the problem wall with interlocking retaining blocks, and the space filled in between. The job could be done for $143,000, he said. Thrasher originally estimated $156,000 to tear out the crumbling wall and rebuild it in the same place.
Council member Irene Hedrick asked Watson if he thought the new design, incorporating a second wall, was a good idea.
He said it would give the town a “really wide sidewalk” along Mercer Street, but he wasn’t sure the town needed the extra space it would create there.
Council asked Mayor Webster to approach bank officials about the idea, which would require some of the bank’s property below the wall.
Council members discussed if additional election duties for Town Clerk Margie Allgyer will warrant her receiving overtime pay. Councilman Scott Merki asked for clarification on the issue.
Mayor Webster said the town’s personnel policy is clear, and that Allgyer is not eligible for overtime because she is a salaried employee.
Election duties are within the responsibilities of the Town Recorder, but the council voted to turn those duties over to Allgyer, who has overseen elections in the past. Allgyer said she got overtime pay for previous elections. The matter was referred to the town’s Personnel Committee.