Oppose the User Fee

Editor, News-Register:

Taxation without representation!

Where do I start? I’ve already written about an interpretation of a “user fee,” but to refresh your memory; here it is again. A true “user fee” is a fee that one has to pay for use of a service or a facility, i.e. rental of a public meeting place, entrance fee into a park, putting money in a parking meter, and so on. Again, in my humble opinion, no one should be made to pay a “user fee” to fund a capital improvement such as a parking garage, or a public safety building, if they do not use that facility. The actual payment a person makes to park their car/truck in the garage is a true “user fee.”

Many cities and municipalities in this state, and throughout the United States and foreign countries, use “user fees” to generate new revenue in lieu of raising taxes or cutting costs for running their government. A note here about what has recently occurred in Wheeling. Instead of maintaining, or shrinking the workforce, to match the decline in population (less than 27,000) our elected officials have approved the creation and hiring, for the following new jobs: public information officer (not sure that is the correct title) who provides news releases for the Police Dept. and the Fire Dept., crimes statistician for the Police Dept., asst. city manager, and a couple of other positions. I for one do not see the need for any of the added positions, the cost of which probably will further have a negative impact on the size of the budget; just another way to pluck more feathers from the geese (taxpayers).

Which brings us to the fact that City Manager Herron has been able to announce a budget surplus (significant) for a number of years. I’d like to point out that government was not created to make money (ours), and that any surplus should be returned to the taxpayers in the form of refunds, and/or reducing B&O taxes, fire service fees, and the such.

On the surface a Wheeling resident might say it’s a good idea to tax those “out of towners” who work in our city. Let them pay for these capital improvements; it doesn’t cost us anything. That’s a shortsighted look that seems to make “user fees” (as envisioned by our mayor and council) more attractive. However, here is just a sample of the persons that will have to pay: all lawyers who work in Wheeling, their office staff, teachers at all schools, colleges, and universities, city employees, hospital and nursing home employees, and people on the lower end of the pay scale such as fast food workers, workers in restaurants, landscapers, utility workers, etc., you get the picture. Who ensures that the electrician, HVAC technician, etc. employed by a firm located outside of the city, who works in Wheeling from time to time; is fairly assessed his $3 a week “user fee”? And what if he only works a couple days a week from time to time, is his employer still required to withhold $3 a week from his wages? Just curious!

In all fairness, user fees have become a way of life for many government entities, local, state, and federal. They have become another revenue stream that once enacted will last forever. My research did not reveal any cases where “user fees” were eliminated or reduced. Unfortunately the opposite was found to be true, as the fees were increased slowly but surely over the years. If you don’t want to be straddled with a “forever fee” you need to let your voices be heard now! Get those complaints out and mail them to “The Mayor at 1500 Chapline Street, Wheeling, WV. 26003.”

In closing I quote — “Government spending is taxation … I’ve never heard of a poor person spending himself into prosperity; let alone I’ve never heard of a poor person taxing himself into prosperity.” Arthur Laffer .

Hope springs eternal!

J. Jacobs



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