Lessen Safety Building Cost

Few of the Wheeling voters who last year said no to a proposed new public safety building did so because of objections to the site where it was to be located, in our opinion. It was the price tag — $20 million — that dismayed most of those who cast ballots against the plan.

It is true, as Mayor Glenn Elliott continues to note, that most of those who voted were agreeable to the idea. About 54% of votes were in favor of it, with about 46% opposed. Because the referendum was on the question of issuing bonds funded by higher taxes, a 60% favorable margin was required for approval.

As we have emphasized, an idea rejected by 46 percent of those voting — 4,337 people in this case — is something Wheeling officials should reconsider. They have, but it is not clear how much effort is going into reducing the proposal’s cost.

Last weekend, we reported that during the past few months, city officials have been rethinking where to locate a new public safety building. Last year’s proposal was for it to be built at 10th and Market streets.

Elliott told our reporter “three or four viable alternatives” for sites are being considered. He added that the 10th and Market lot “is still a leading candidate” but that other places “present advantages of their own.”

With rejection of the referendum last year, city officials turned to other options to provide money for the public safety building. Establishing user fees — $1-$3 per week paid by everyone who works in the city — has been discussed. That idea has been objected to by many, including both businesses and people who work, but do not live, in Wheeling.

Finding ways to lessen the proposal’s cost ought to be a top priority for city officials. Then, the idea ought to be submitted again to voters. There is a good chance the 60% threshold could be surpassed — if voters believe their money is being used effectively and sparingly.

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