"As you know, one year ago I met with the public to discuss the financial conditions of the city, the effects the recession has had on it's municipalities and their revenues," says Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell. "Since then, a lot has happened. We've made significant budget cuts, we've imposed a fee, as everyone is well aware of, to help cover the cost of service and actually improve services and make them a little bit more efficient. Tonight, my purpose is to follow up on that information."
The state of the city of Parkersburg town hall meeting started off with mayor Newell debunking of myths and misinformation about the city's finances and moved swiftly into revenues and the ranking of West Virginia cities by fees collected.
Mayor Newell then discussed the rising costs of doing business and the economic and financial challenges facing the city, including pensions and retirement of public employees.
The Mayor then completed his portion of the meeting with a list of public projects completed this year, summing up how the city is remaining competitive in a global economy and business growth and development within the city.
While the city's overall finances were the main topic of the meeting- some still had questions about the user fee.
"I appreciate our police and firemen just as much as the next fellow but shouldn't we address raising that fee as opposed to imposing the user fee and using that to make up for the loss," a Parkersburg citizen asked Mayor Newell.
"It could have been," Mayor Newell answered. "It could have been that they raised the police fee, that they raised the fire fee. When I say 'they,' I mean City Council. They could have matched up business and operations tax, imposed a utilities tax. There were a lot of options. The option they chose was the user fee and for good reason."
On the whole, Mayor Newell says he's cautiously optimistic about Parkersburg's financial situation.
"We are doing well but we're not out of the woods yet. The reason I say that is because we do have all these things that need to be done. But, more importantly, we keep hearing from Washington that there may be another recession ahead. So, I don't want to sit up here and say everything's great, we can all relax and a month from now be going through what we went through in '08."