Drop Suggestion Of ‘User Fees’

Some Wheeling businesses and people who shop there are adjusting to a new city sales tax – just in time for some officials to suggest another new tax. Three words for City Council members: Just say no.

Earlier this summer, at council’s direction, City Manager Robert Herron suggested a package of changes intended to slice more than $800,000 from Wheeling’s budget. Central to the plan are cuts in the police department (though no layoffs are envisioned).

Some council members object to reductions in public safety forces. A few have what they think is a better idea to keep the budget in balance, as explained in a story on page one of today’s newspaper. They think the city should collect a “user fee.”

Fees would be collected from people who work within city limits. One suggestion is that they be required to pay $1 a week.

In addition to creating a new headache for business owners who would have to withhold the money from paychecks and remit it to the city, the fee would add to workers’ tax burdens.

A dollar a week may not sound like much. But viewed in the context of continually increasing taxes and fees at all levels of government, it is objectionable. A dollar a week for the user fee, a few more a week for the sales tax, several dollars in higher water bills – and pretty soon, to paraphrase a politician many years ago, you’re talking real money.

Wheeling residents who see more and more of their hard-earned money going to government and less and less in their own bank accounts will not view a user fee enthusiastically.

And they should not be happy about it – especially coming on the heels of the sales tax.

Council members should stop thinking about higher taxes and work with Herron to cut spending. If they cannot agree to police department cuts, they should offer alternatives.