WHEELING, W.VA (WTRF) — The future of a fee that was voted on and passed in the city of Wheeling last year to increase safety and improve infrastructure is now up in the air.
But– Wheeling isn’t the only city who will be affected in the Mountain State if the state legislature rids cities abilities to implement User Fees.
The User Fee was established in Wheeling to help fire, EMS, and police services. As city officials say– it’s not fluff, it’s to establish a more efficient system. And abolishing the user fee would be detrimental for the future of Wheeling fire and Wheeling police.
In the past year– the user fee has jump-started the process of upgrading our fire stations, and creating a new centralized police and fire headquarters. The city has also been able to focus more on infrastructure due to the fee.
But– now there’s a movement in the state legislature to get rid of the ability to allow cities to use user fees.
Mayor Glenn Elliott says in our neighboring states– they have more ways to raise funds, but if this is taken away– city income across the state would take a huge hit.
On behalf on the Professional Fire Chiefs Association, every one of us would be affected in some way. We all have user fees. Like you pointed out. Some of us would have to lay off people. I mean, that wouldn’t be the case for Wheeling, but things that we need to promote our public safety in the future would go away. It would be very tough to fund those projects.CHIEF LARRY HELMS, WHEELING FIRE
Mayor Elliott believes our state government wants to restrict local control, because they don’t trust elected city officials to run their respective cities. He says this is a time we should be helping our cities grow, not hindering their ability to do so.
He also said he wishes state government would look local before they make decisions, but that our locally elected delegates– Storch, Fluharty, Inhlenfeld, and Weld — all voted against the legislation.