Wheeling Leaders Consider Budget


WHEELING — On the same day city council is set to approve City Manager Robert Herron’s $34 million budget plan for the new fiscal year, members will hear the first reading of the ordinance that would increase parking meter overtime fines from $3 per ticket to $10 per citation.

Mayor Glenn Elliott, Vice Mayor Chad Thalman, Councilwoman Wendy Scatterday, along with Councilmen Ken Imer, Brian Wilson, Ty Thorngate and Dave Palmer, will tackle these and other matters during a 5:30 p.m. Tuesday meeting at the City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St.

After a March 7 meeting between Herron and council regarding the budget, members indicated they would likely pass the plan, while emphasizing it is “preliminary” because changes can be made during the fiscal year as the city’s true revenue picture becomes clearer.

The budget set for approval does not include any employee pay raises or funding for capital projects such as street paving.

It also does not include money for three new police officers and a crime data analyst, which Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger would like to hire.

Fire and police protection are the city’s largest expenses, as Wheeling intends to pay nearly $10 million for fire department services in the new year, along with more than $8 million for police. These amounts are up slightly from the current fiscal year primarily due to required pension payments, as the pension payment for fire increased by $257,000, while that for police will jump by $404,000.

Another matter council is addressing is the increase of fees for parking violations throughout the city. This issue is set for first reading Tuesday, which means it will likely be up for final approval during the April 4 meeting.

Wheeling Vice Mayor Chad Thalman, who serves as chairman of the city’s Finance Committee, said the increase in fines is not intended to be punitive, but to help provide businesses with more room for customer parking.

“We had several businesses come to us with concerns about this,” he said.

In addition to increaing the fine for overtime parking from $3 to $10, other changes to fines — all of which are doubled if not paid within 30 days — include raising the fine for blocking a fire hydrant from $50 to $100.

It will be a busy day for council, as members will begin with a Finance Committee meeting at 4:45 p.m., followed by a Rules Committee meeting at 5 p.m. and the regular council meeting at 5:30 p.m. All meetings are slated for the first floor of the City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St.