Begin Discussing ‘Metro’ Potential

A story on page one of today’s newspaper outlines the positions being taken by Ohio County and City of Wheeling officials regarding “metro government.” A majority of them in both government entities have said that they think “metro government” is an idea worth discussing.

So why hasn’t it been discussed more actively by city council members and the mayor and by county commissioners? Why isn’t more being done to explore the possibilities, look at the challenges and, perhaps, consider the advantages of combining some or all aspects of city and county government?

It is important for local residents to understand proposals for “metro” or “unified” government. They do not mean that, suddenly, there would be no City of Wheeling government or no Ohio County government, just a single, combined entity for all purposes. State law allows an enormous amount of flexibility. City and county governments could merge some departments and remain independent in others. They could maintain independence on public services but work jointly on economic development, for example.

And nothing can be forced down the throats of local residents. For any unification to be implemented, it would have to be approved by 55 percent of voters in Wheeling and 55 percent of Ohio County voters outside the city.

Leaders in the Hopeful City organization have been trying for months to convince city and county officials to begin formal discussion of whether “metro government” is right for residents of our area. Now, a majority of city officials and a majority of county commissioners are on record, stating that such discussions should be held. Without further ado — and delay — let’s get the ball rolling for the good of the entire county.