Building Plan Too Costly

Editor, News-Register:

Story headline “City Contemplating User Fee for Public Safety Building,” by Alex Meyer, dated January 20th.

My first letter defining what a “user fee” is was published in the letters to the editor column of the same newspaper. Subsequent to its publication, the Wheeling newspaper decided to do a story (the one cited above) and interviewed/quoted both Mayor Glenn Elliott and Vice Mayor Chad Thalman, seeking their input on the use of a “user fee” to fund a new public safety building which was defeated by the voters in November of 2018.

The old saying now kicks in: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again,” and the axiom“the end justifies the means” comes to mind. They say we need a new public safety building, and I say it’s a luxury we, the taxpayers, can’t afford.

I’m told by an inside source that the “user fee” would not be assessed against “persons on a fixed income.” Well, that’s OK as far as it goes, but what about the 15.5 percent of Wheeling’s population that is below the federal poverty level, 41-plus percent of that number being African-Americans?

Also, my research determined from updated census figures that 16.2 percent of those below the federal poverty level are working full time. Do you think they can afford to pay the proposed $3 a week “user fee?” I don’t. And 17.7 percent of those below the federal poverty level are working part time. Again, those working the hardest to supplement their income will be impacted the most by the proposed “user fee” to build a new public safety building. It would seem that the mayor and City Council need to reevaluate their solution to overcrowding in the police department.

One suggestion (not mine) has been made to purchase the old school building in East Wheeling and renovate it into a new administrative facility for both the fire and police departments.

I’m sure that it could be done at a fraction of the proposed cost of a new building. At least it needs to be seriously inspected by an architect/engineer to identify if it can be repurposed for use as a police station and what the estimated cost might be.

Another alternative would be the soon to be vacant Social Security building on 16th Street, perhaps with some type of lease/purchase agreement.

How about building on top of the existing City/County Building?

The Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce is made up of business owners, bankers, educators, attorneys, and the elite of Wheeling and the surrounding area. I’m somewhat surprised that the Chamber has not been outspoken on the mayor and city council’s proposal to enact another tax (user fee) that will directly impact the wages of the employees of their member organizations, not to mention the chilling impact it may have on new businesses relocating to the city of Wheeling.

My advice to the mayor and city council is to step back from this unaffordable champagne dream of a multi-million-dollar building when we, the taxpayers, are living on a beer budget.

Currently, the mayor and city council have proposed unneeded projects that will cost the taxpayers in excess of $55 million. “A liberal is a man who will give away everything he doesn’t own.” — Frank Dane.

Hope springs eternal!

J. Jacobs

Wheeling

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