Bath Council raises tax rates by 3%
The Town of Bath Council laid the property tax levy for fiscal year 2011 - 2012 starting July 1 at the Tuesday morning, April 19 meeting.
A Class II residential real estate property will be taxed at $15.96 per $100 of assessed value and a Class IV business at $31.92 per $100 of assessed value.
This represents a 3% increase from last year, which is the highest amount the levy may be raised without going through the process of holding public hearings.
The town expects to net $118,983 from the collection of property taxes for the fiscal year.
By comparison, the Martinsburg city council raised the levy by 3% to $20.06 per $100 of assessed value on residential properties and $40.12 per $100 of assessed value on business properties.
Water loss update
Chief Water Operator Terry Largent reported the amount of water loss over the past quarter is 31%, up 4% from the previous quarter’s 27% loss. This compares to the 60% loss reported prior to the completion of the two water line replacement projects.
Largent said the increase this quarter can be attributed to large leaks that were found and fixed at Congress Street and U.S. 522 and on Fairfax Street.
He said the Water Works is now pumping 300,000 gallons per day, down from 500,000 gallons per day prior to the two projects to replace water lines.
Last month the West Virginia Public Service Commission agreed to a partial lifting of the ban on new water taps.
Largent said a bid being prepared by Thrasher Engineering will go out shortly to replace over 500 water meters with radio meters that are read remotely.
A new leak policy has been prepared and will be sent out to all water customers.
The council discussed a $13,000 bid from U.S. Paving to repair the pot holed area around the intersection of Market and Mercer streets.
Councilman Ryan Rebant proposed buying a tar buggy out of the town’s street budget for an estimated $6,000 to give the town’s street crew the ability to hot patch the streets instead of paying U.S. Paving to do the job.
Rebant suggested the town budget the cost to repave the two streets over the next several years while continuing to patch the streets as needed in the meantime.
“The spending has got to stop somewhere,” Rebant said.
Rebant’s ideas were supported by Councilman Scott Merki and Mayor Susan Webster.
“I think that now I would feel much more comfortable buying a piece of equipment like that because of the expertise of the crew we have and the crew leader we have,” Webster said.
The council will vote on purchasing the tar buggy at the next meeting.
Rebant reported a new heating and air conditioning system has been installed in the train depot replacing the old outdated boiler and radiator system. The new heat pump was paid for with an energy efficiency grant from the state’s Historic Preservation Society.
Rebant said repair of the roof at the depot by the park service is continuing but has been hampered lately by the rainy weather.
Hotel-Motel tax increase
A second reading of the ordinance, public hearing and vote on the proposed hotel-motel tax increase from 3% to 4% will be held on May 5 at 8:30 a.m.
The county has already passed the tax increase and the council is expected to follow suit.
Concern about lawsuit cost
Councilman and Chairman of the Finance Committee David Crosby expressed his concern about the ongoing cost of suing the Country Inn over back hotel-motel taxes owed to the town.
He said the town has already spent $4,000 on legal fees and was concerned the town might spend $2-$3 thousand a month.
“We are throwing good money after bad money,” Crosby said.
Webster disagreed. She said the council voted to file the suit and had no choice but to try to recover the money. The Country Inn owes in excess of $30,000 to the town in back hotel-motel taxes.
“Perhaps it’s good money after bad and perhaps it’s not. I don’t think we have a choice but to follow through,” Webster said.
She explained that in the event the property is sold or auctioned off, taxes are first in line to be repaid.
Town Clerk Margie Allgyer said in the case of bankruptcy hearings the town had to be represented by an attorney.
Allgyer said a recent audit of town’s accounts did not uncover any major problems other than several minor procedural issues. The cost of the required audit was $8,138, she said.
PSD office space
Andy Jurick, representing the Public Service District, told the council the lease on office space in the Municipal Building is running out and the District needs to know the cost of a new lease for its budget by the second week in May.
He said the District is currently paying $750 a month to lease the office space.
The matter was referred to the town’s Finance Committee and the issue placed on the agenda for the next meeting.
Speed bumps for Ewing St.
Police Administrator Gene Kilduff asked the council to approve two speed bumps for the hill on Ewing Street heading down toward Route 9. He said residents are complaining they can’t safely back out of their driveways due to speeding traffic.
Council approved the purchase of two nine foot speed bumps at a cost of approximately $170 each.
Division of Highways
Webster said she has written two letters to the West Virginia Division of Highways; one supporting a connector road from U.S. 522 to the new hospital and another to area supervisor John Coleman asking him what the Division’s plans for town streets are this year.
The Foxglove Garden Club is holding their annual Treasure Sale on Sunday, May 8.
A funnel cake truck will be located next to the park on Fairfax near Washington Street and the council approved bagging the first three meters on that side of Fairfax Street from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. for the truck.