Politics

Fate of potential Wheeling public safety building to be decided by voters

WHEELING, W. Va. (WTRF) - After months of discussion, voters in Wheeling will decide whether or not to make a $20 million facility upgrade for the city's first responders.

$20 million will go towards a brand new public safety building that will house both the Wheeling Police and Fire Departments. $1.5 million will go towards other fire station upgrades and a new Warwood firetruck.

City officials first expressed their desire for a new public safety building in March, citing the extended period of time they have been using the current one. Leaders like Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger urged voters to invest in their safety.

"We've been in this building since 1959, it's not even A.D.A. compliant and female officers have to go somewhere else to even use the facilities, such as the restroom," said Chief Schwertfeger.

Mayor Glenn Elliott also spoke of making the investment, saying that residents need to make sure first responders are as well-equipped as possible.

"Public safety can never be taken for granted, the fact that it is not a problem right now does not mean we should ignore it and not make it a priority, so going forward we want to make sure that our first responders are armed with the best facilities and best tools going forward to keep us a very safe city," said Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott.

"I agree that there is a need," said resident Jerry Yuhase. "I disagree with the way they're making homeowners in the city of Wheeling or Ohio county pay for it when others are using it."

Other voters said that they simply thought the bill was too high.

"That's a lot of money to be asking the City of Wheeling," said Wheeling resident Chris Hamm. 

The money will be coming from both real estate and personal taxes, which will cost on average about $105 per household annually and $38 for personal property taxes annually.

After the town hall, however, Hamm said that he had gotten past his reservations and would vote in favor of the new building.

"This has got to be done. I've changed my mind," he said. "I really believe that this is an absolute need for these guys for sure."

Today, the dialogue comes to an end, and voters in Wheeling will decide whether or not to make that $20 million investment into a new public safety building.


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