Reject Tax, Reduce Costs

Talk of a new “user fee” – actually a tax – persists among some Wheeling City Council members. Forcing the public to pay more to support municipal services seems more palatable to them than reducing the size of government.

A few weeks ago, City Manager Robert Herron submitted recommendations to cut municipal spending. Much of his package involves reducing the size of the police force, without laying off any current officers.

Herron’s ideas were presented as a result of a council directive earlier this year. When told to prepare suggestions for cost cutting, Herron warned they would be dramatic.

They were, to the point that some council members balked.

Something has to be done, however. Herron’s analysis indicates that if the city continues on its current spending plan and fills all personnel vacancies, the budget will be $250,000 out of balance by the end of the fiscal year next June 30.

Instead of reducing spending, the city should increase revenue, some council members believe. That could be accomplished by adopting a “user fee” like some other municipalities, including Weirton, Charleston and Huntington, have already.

A user fee, of anywhere from $1 to $3 a week, would be paid by people who work in the city.

As we have pointed out, that would come on top of the city sales tax implemented last year.

Council members should swallow hard and adopt Herron’s recommendations to keep the budget in balance. Simply passing the buck to taxpayers is not a wise alternative.