Despite OVMC announcement, city moving ahead with user fee

WHEELING — Mayor Glenn Elliott said Thursday that City Council will move forward with a plan to implement a $2 per week user fee, despite the potential loss of 900 jobs at Ohio Valley Medical Center.

Council heard first reading of an ordinance this week to enact the fee, and Elliott said he expects members to stick to their timetable and vote Aug. 20 on the matter.

Half of the user fee would fund a new public safety building in Wheeling, while the other half would go to “infrastructure.” Elliott said the new building is needed to provide facilities for first responders and improve infrastructure.

“City Council is looking to the future,” he said. “We recognize that a city service fee is seen by some as making Wheeling less competitive, but when I look around the Upper Ohio Valley, I see preserving our strong public safety record and upgrading our aging infrastructure as two positive steps to draw more private sector investment into city limits.”

The user fee would apply to all full-time, part-time and self-employed workers who work in Wheeling for at least 30 days per year. The ordinance under consideration was modeled after a similar one enacted in Charleston.

The $2 fee is estimated to generate $1.75 million per year. The loss of 900 workers from the city would result in about $93,000 less coming in each year.