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.


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  • Elliott

    With the proposed expansion over the back parking lot, further exterior renovations need to address riverfront access and engagement. That's just a wasted bank and dead space at the back of the Civic Center.

    In a dream world, I'd love to see CURA do a land swap with the Shriners to get the temple and then acquire the steakhouse to expand in that lot. Also, the Sears Auto Center needs to go and the area refurbished to better connect the Civic Center to the Municipal Auditorium.

  • Thirsty

    Please do not forget to fix the water fountains, love to have a free drink of water.

  • Bill

    Kudos to city leadership for this much needed action. WV's splendid capital city's civic center is an important venue for the entire state. These much needed improvements will set a positive tone for years to come.

    • Fentanyl Bomb

      People rarely remark on a pleasant visit to an area. They will tell anyone and everyone about an unpleasant one. First impressions matter.

      The upgrade to the Civic Center looks like a safe "stitch in time" municipal action. Money spent here has a better chance of making money later than most Economic Development plans.

  • Jim

    Charleston should lobby Congress to pass the internet sales tax. This is just one more reason to shop online or go to Barboursville Mall. I have to pay a $2.00 fee to CURA for the privilege of shopping in the Charleston Mall, $2.00 a week ot work, and now another .5% sales tax. Charleston is more likely to here the same sucking sound the US heard when buseness fled to Mexico with the passage of NAFTA. Gee which city will I locate a retail store in, the city adjacent with a competative tax advantage or Charleston with the non-competative higher tax. Good planning there Charleston.

  • Brian

    If you're going to do it, do it right. Please replace the exterior of the CC Complex- it's hideous. And, while you're at it, please remove the green plexiglass along the walk-way adjacent to the west bound Leon Sullivan Way exit ramp of I-64/77.Remove this and the department of corrections industry building if you want to easily
    spruce of the so-called "gateway" to Charleston.