Northern Panhandle residents will have the opportunity Tuesday to weigh in on a pressing problem for the entire state: repairing highways without wrecking West Virginians' bank accounts.
It really is that serious. Analysts estimate that to fund the state Division of Highways adequately, the state will need to find an additional $1 billion a year. That's a lot of money - around $550 annually for every man, woman and child living in the Mountain State.
Another idea of the potential impact can be gained from one suggestion for raising money. It is to increase the state sales tax to 7 percent, up from the current 6 percent.
Public hearings on the situation are being held throughout the state by the Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways. One hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday at Wilson Lodge in Oglebay Park. A second event at the same location will begin at 5:40 p.m. that day.
Members of the public will have opportunities to hear the challenge outlined and to learn about suggestions for increasing the DOH's revenue stream. Opinions are being collected to help policy makers decide how to proceed.
If the condition of roads, bridges - and, again, your personal finances - concerns you, we encourage you to attend one or both of the local hearings.