Run Wheeling Economically

Revenue from Wheeling’s new municipal sales tax seems to be picking up. That is good news for city officials and perhaps for local businesses.

Plans for use of revenue from the 0.5-percent tax were for it to be used for infrastructure improvements and to provide some business and occupation tax relief. But after the first few months’ returns were lower than had been expected, those plans were put on hold.

As we reported Saturday, collections from the tax are picking up. During the first five months it was in effect, it enriched city coffers by a total of $793,000. At that rate, annual revenue would exceed the $1.6 million City Manager Robert Herron had projected.

Herron and other local officials still are cautious, however. “We need another couple of months to make sure” of how reliable the new funding source will be, he said.

City officials are right to proceed with caution. Neither plans for major improvements such as those envisioned for WesBanco Arena nor for B&O tax relief should proceed without reasonable assurance the sales tax will cover them.

But another plan prompted by disappointing early collections of the sales tax should not be affected.

After the first few months’ collections came in lower than predicted, City Council members gave Herron the go-ahead to proceed with a sweeping study of municipal government operations. In June, he is to report on that investigation.

It is expected Herron will present council with a list of proposals to change some of how the city provides services – and perhaps even what services it should provide.

Regardless of how well sales tax collections are going, any reasonable suggestions Herron makes should be adopted. Municipal government should provide quality services as economically as possible, no matter how much money is available from taxes and fees.