Charleston Mayor proposes tax hike to pay for Civic Center renov - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Charleston Mayor proposes tax hike to pay for Civic Center renovations

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CHARLESTON, West Virginia -

A plan being spearheaded by Charleston Mayor Danny Jones would change the city's tax rates, all to pay for renovations to the Charleston Civic Center. 

The plan, which Jones said has been years in the making, was unveiled at a news conference Tuesday morning. 

In order to raise the $45-60 million needed to update the facility, the city would raise their sales tax by .5 percent. 

The city would also eliminate business and occupation taxes, which currently bring in $350,000 and reduce retail tax from .5 percent to .35 percent. 

The renovations are needed, Jones contends, to bring in more conventions to the area. The renovations would include a new 18,000-20,000 square foot ballroom, new meeting spaces, a new heating and air conditioning system, a new kitchen, new lighting and sound systems and a new facade to "make the center more inviting." 

The city has not heard from retailers or business owners who would be faced with higher prices for their customers, but Jones said the project would not have resistance once it is completed.

"I can promise you, if we're allowed to move forward with this, just like the ball park, no one will want to say they're against it once its done," said Jones. 

The catalyst for the proposal was the home rule pilot program. The city's access to funding is set to expire by June 30. The plan will be presented to both the full Charleston city council and the home rule board before it moves forward. 

The money raised from the tax increase is expected to raise $3.6 million each year.  The city would use bonds to pay for the renovations up front. 

A full report on the plan can be seen on 13News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.