Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie has a goal to make Wheeling the first city in West Virginia to be totally "e-gov" within one year.
E-gov, short for electronic government, refers to the use of Internet technology as a platform for exchanging information, providing services and transacting business with citizens, businesses and other arms of government.
During a town hall-style meeting Thursday at West Virginia Business College, McKenzie said e-gov will allow residents to do business with the city over the Internet.
"They will be able to pay water bills and other fees, get building permits or conduct other business over the Internet," McKenzie said. "There will be no reason for them to have to travel to the city building."
The mayor said another benefit to e-gov will be a reduction in printing costs associated with reports to city officials.
"The councilmen will get their weekly agenda and reports via the Internet rather than on printed paper," he said. "Also, there may be a large-screen television in the City Council chambers where the agenda and other information can be displayed."
McKenzie said Wheeling will become a statewide leader in e-gov.
"It's my goal to make Wheeling the first city in West Virginia to be completely e-gov," the mayor said.
McKenzie was accompanied to the city's fourth town hall session by Joelle Ennis, the city's marketing and community relations coordinator; Karri Mulhern, work force manager for the Regional Economic Development Partnership; and Stefanie Panas, vice president of marketing and communications for the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce.
The women spoke of their respective roles in working to make Wheeling a good place to work, play and raise a family. McKenzie said Wheeling has many positives to entice people to remain in the city to work. He mentioned a high quality of life, safety, education, cost of living, housing and parks and recreation as being better than any other place in the nation.
"Our one major negative, however, is a lack of jobs and opportunities," he said. "We are committed to working with local businesses and to attracting new business to create more jobs."
During a question-and-answer period, students quizzed the panel about issues such as downtown development, improved bus service and more events being offered.
McKenzie said the downtown area will never be what it once was, but he thinks it will be better if small retail shops and restaurants are opened.
Many students expressed dissatisfaction with the parking meters near the school.
"They are only half-hour meters, and some of our classes are one hour long," one student said. "We've all gotten lots of tickets."
The mayor said there appears to be no solution to the downtown parking problem in Wheeling or in other cities around the country.
"In a perfect world, we could take all the meters out and use the chalked tire system to allow one-hour free parking," he said. "The meters are a negative and are something we need to look at."
McKenzie said the city does not have a lack of parking in the downtown; rather, there is a lack of convenient parking.