Limit Tax, Fee Hikes in Weirton

Weirton officials do not have the option of following the physicians’ credo – do no harm – in balancing the city’s budget. It appears the best they can hope for is to do as little harm as possible to residents and businesses in the community.

For weeks members of City Council and other officials have been discussing how to close an expected $1.6 million gap between revenue and spending for the upcoming fiscal year. The amount is daunting, working out to an average of about $82 for every man, woman and child in Weirton.

Several council members met this week to explore various methods of bringing in more money. A wide array of ideas including higher business and occupation taxes, increased fees for municipal services and even a sales tax have been discussed.

Councilman Fred Marsh’s idea involves higher fees for services including police and fire protection. He pointed out city officials should have been increasing fees, based on inflation, every few years in the past.

Marsh is right about that. City officials should make it a point to compare municipal fees to inflation regularly.

It appears city officials have no choice but to charge residents and businesses higher fees and/or taxes. Decisions on that should be made only after every avenue of cutting spending has been explored, however.

“There is no pretty scenario,” Councilman Terry Weigel remarked this week. “There’s nothing easy about it.”

Indeed. Again, however, Weirton officials should work through the process with the motto of doing as little harm as possible in mind.