Parkersburg User Fee Idea a Shocker

By: Roger Sheppard
By: Roger Sheppard

WTAP making plans to cover important public forum on Tuesday, Oct 5 live or otherwise


at 6pm in the city council chambers. WTAP is making plans to cover that either live on our air, live on the web, or otherwise. Stay tuned for more details if you can’t make it to the meeting in person.

The proposal to levy a 3-dollar-a-week user fee on every person that works inside the city of Parkersburg …to offset a looming 2.5 million dollar city budget shortfall in the near future…has caught almost everyone off-guard.

The fact that it went from an unheard-of idea to the major and ONLY proposal to raise revenues … almost overnight … is evidence of one of two things.

Either the city truly has no other option…or a lack of creative thinking.

Communities in West Virginia, unlike our neighbors in Ohio… do not have the option of levying city income taxes, as Marietta does. In the Mountain State, that concept is known as "Home Rule" and has been talked about for years but never enacted.

That leaves cities with very few ways to raise revenue to pay for all of the services that cities are obligated to and expected to offer.

In reality, there is NO completely fair tax.

People say a tax on food discriminates against the poor who have the least money to pay those extra taxes.

The federal income tax system has become so convoluted in its efforts to be made more fair OR to bow to the whim and influence of groups seeking special exemptions…that most Americans need professional or on-line help just to figure out what they owe!

A city income tax doesn't take into account that people outside the city limits enjoy and take advantage of services offered within the city, but don't have to help pay for them.

No one likes taxes and no one likes tax increases.

Just a couple of observations:

If the impending sale of St. Joseph's Hospital to a non-profit organization, and the impending loss of Business and Occupational tax as a result of that sale, is one reason why this proposal is being made…that sale hasn't even been approved yet. While I applaud the city leaders for looking ahead, we just don't want to get the cart before the horse.

The one quote I read from Mayor Newell that I found interesting was when he said he knows that proposing this tax might mean he won't get re-elected. But, he was quoted as saying, he's not serving as mayor simply to get re-elected. I wonder how many members of city council would say the same thing?

Everyone in Parkersburg city government needs to put on their thinking caps and do whatever research is possible to find ways to cut spending and raise revenues. It's hard to imagine that a 3-dollar-a-week user fee is the ONLY way to solve this problem.

The mayor is holding a public forum on this issue this coming Tuesday, October 5th

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