A sales tax increase is coming to a Charleston retail store near you.
Charleston City Council passed the final reading Monday night for a half-cent sales tax increase that will pay for improvements at the Charleston Civic Center.
The increase would add up to around $3.5 million per year totaling anywhere from $45-$60 million to cover the costs of renovating and expanding the facility.
Charleston Councilman Jack Harrison said it’s something that needed to be done.
“We have to have this revenue in order to begin construction on a new project on the Civic Center so this is the first step and I think it fulfills the vision of the council two years ago when we named that as our number one priority,” said Harrison.
With the final reading now accomplished, the sales tax goes into effect immediately, but City Manager David Molgaard said customers won’t see the tax on their bill for awhile.
“Retailers and vendors will not start collecting the tax from consumers probably not until October,” Molgaard predicted. “We have to give time and notice to the tax commissioner who will also give notice to the vendors to start collecting the tax.”
In addition, Molgaard adds that the city won’t start seeing the funds from the tax until around January or February of next year.
The city council is making the change as part of the current West Virginia home rule pilot project. The tax increase would not be allowed in the home rule expansion that was passed in the most recent legislative session.
Now with the sales tax increase in place, the city will now move forward with putting together actual plans for the renovation and expansion work on the Civic Center. Molgaard said the city has a lot of plans for the facility.
“First and foremost we know that we need a ballroom space that will be able to seat a thousand to 15-hundred people; secondly, we need about five-thousand square feet of additional meeting space and then beyond that the curb appeal definitely needs to be updated as well as improvements to the inside,” said Molgaard.
However, the air conditioning and heating system has been causing problems lately and Molgaard adds that it will probably be one of the first things replaced.
Councilman Harrison said the Civic Center plays a major role in what the city will become in the future.
“The Civic Center is such a vital part of the city of Charleston and we hold all kinds of events there from tractor pulls to basketball games and a circus,” said Harrison. “It provides a tremendous cultural and community event for the city.”
In addition to passing the sales tax increase, the city council also approved the elimination of the city’s B&O Manufacturing tax as a way to encourage new business to the city as well as thank current businesses for choosing Charleston as their home.
No timetable was given as to when plans for the Civic Center would be completed and construction could begin.