Exploring Options For Public Safety

Many Wheeling residents agree the city’s police and fire departments need better quarters than they occupy now. About 54 percent of voters agreed last year to a tax levy to build a new public safety building.

But the measure required a 60 percent approval, so it failed. That has prompted some city officials to consider establishing a “user fee” to be paid by anyone who works in Wheeling, as a way of funding the public safety building they want.

Presumably, the fee would be designed to raise the $20 million sought for a new public safety building, as well as the $1.5 million sought for a new fire truck and repairs to existing fire stations.

During a meeting last week, Councilman Dave Palmer objected to the user fee. He also recommended Mayor Glenn Elliott and City Manager Robert Herron explore other options for new police and fire department facilities.

Palmer is right, even if some consideration already has been given to options.

City officials should, with open minds, investigate the possibilities — then share them with the public. Perhaps there is a way to provide the improved police and fire department facilities at less cost than the $20 million proposal.

Voters — 46 percent of whom said no to the levy last year — are entitled to know the options.

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