Parkersburg is the only West Virginia city without a utility tax, and the mayor hoped such a tax could help the fire and Police Department buy new equipment, including new police cruisers. City council's budget committee, however, has said “no” to that idea.
“I wouldn't support it,” says Parkersburg resident Don Chaney. "I think we pay enough taxes already."
"I'm on fixed income," said Eugene Bock. “Things aren't too great.”
It's the second year in a row council has had to make such a decision. Last year, it rejected a proposed increase in city fees, while not funding some positions in the police and fire departments.
Police Chief Bob Newell remains hopeful that, once the new budget takes effect, council can find money to pay for some new cruisers.
"At least a few members of council realize we can't go another year without any new cars," Newell says, "and they have expressed willingness to work on that later in the year after the balanced budget is submitted."
He doesn't, however, go along with suggestions the department is wasting money.
"I've always stayed with the budget that's been set for me," Newell says. "In the last year, the city has enjoyed a seven per cent decrease in crime, and we have taken a record number of drunk drivers off the road."
The amount of money that's available for new cruisers may depend on how revenues from existing taxes come in, when the new budget year begins this summer.
Parkersburg city council is expected to approve the new fiscal year budget at its regular meeting Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m.