Getting Things Done in Wheeling

Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie’s annual State of the City speech today may not feature any big new initiatives. Municipal officials have plenty of unfinished business on their plates.

In discussing plans for his speech, to be delivered at noon today in the Capitol Theatre ballroom, McKenzie mentioned several issues and opportunities during the coming year.

One is new opportunities under the state Home Rule Pilot Program, which gives a few cities powers normally denied to them under state law. Tax and regulatory reform, along with new flexibility in dealing with dilapidated structures, have benefited the city. Following up on those successes with additional use of Home Rule authority sounds like a good idea.

In the unfinished business category, McKenzie also cited the process of reviewing the city charter. In the long run, that may be the most important task for municipal government – along with local residents and business people – this year. The charter is Wheeling’s basic document of government, providing the context under which local officials must operate.

Obviously, the key to updating the charter successfully will be to make changes the past several years have demonstrated are important – while not tinkering with aspects of local government that are working well.

Other unfinished business on which local residents and business people have their eyes are plans for the 1100 block of Main and Market streets and for completing the J.B. Chambers Recreation Park in East Wheeling.

Also – and this is a topic the mayor probably will be happier to address than would have been the case just a few weeks ago – members of the public want to know more about how city officials plan to spend the proceeds of a new municipal sales tax.

Earlier this year, we reported revenue from the tax was lagging badly behind expectations. Collections seem to be picking up, however, to judge by a recent report from the state Tax Department.

In establishing the tax, city officials said they wanted to earmark proceeds for improvements at WesBanco Arena and for infrastructure projects. An update on those plans is in order.

Several “loose ends” remain to be tied up in Wheeling. Addressing plans to take care of them successfully would make for an excellent “State of the City” address by the mayor.