CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Charleston City Council’s finance committee is scheduled to discuss a proposal Monday night that would raise the sales tax another half-percent to help address the city’s 30-year uniform pension debt.

The sales tax climbed from 6 percent to 6.5 percent last year to finance renovations at the Charleston Civic Center, and another half-cent hike would help Charleston keep up with pension trust fund payoffs that are growing annually.

City Manager David Molgaard said the increase would fund those pension payments for at least 12 years.

“It will get us down the road and allow us to continue to make improvements and adjust accordingly,” he said.

Charleston’s pension debt for its firefighters and police officers is $280 million with a bill that will increase $500,000 per year. The trust fund must be fully funded in 30 years.

Mayor Danny Jones originally proposed raising trash and fire fees, but that would only cover increasing pension costs for two or three years.

The city can’t raise the tax on its own—it has to get the approval of the state Home Rule Board. There first has to be a public hearing, followed by an appearance before the board and then back to Charleston City Council for two readings on the proposal. The increased tax would take effect in the summer of 2015.

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  • Mountain Navy

    Glad I do not live in Charleston. Drive through there once in a while. But that is it.

  • reality check

    getting rid of that transit mall would go a long way. that place is nothing but a gathering spot for moochers and criminals.

  • Molon Labe

    Nailed it.

  • Molon Labe

    I'll say it again....cancel all Kanawha Blvd parties/events until this money is made up.

    Festivall, Live on the Levee, Car Shows, etc. cost more to put on than they bring to the city of Charleston.

    Econ 101.

  • Gary

    1/2 cent now . Next year 1 cent and who knows after that. Why don't they cut the pension or make employees pay more. The union cut mine and raised my payments into it significantly.

  • FungoJoe

    How many city workers are retired from the city and are now working on a second retirement from the city in another department? This double-dipping in the pension system should be illegal. Mayor Nanny Jones needs to decrease the size of city government before adding on more taxes. The City of Charleston has almost 1000 employees and they have almost 500 vehicles. That is a bit over the top.

  • Independent View

    Although the city fathers stuck their collective heads in the sand for decades, capitulating to the police and fireman unions' demands and threats, the residents of Charleston must now pay up for their elected leaders gutless inaction and refusal to tackle this horrendous problem head-on.
    These unfunded liabilities should have been dealt with years or decades ago and they would not have morphed into the monumental and unmanageable deficits they are now.
    Although on a smaller scale, Charleston and Huntington's unfunded liabilities mirror the teacher's retirement fund, which a few years ago, its unfunded liability exceeded a billion dollars! Why? Same reason, politicians swept the problem under the rug as they were afraid if they raised taxes to properly fund the system, they would be thrown out of office.
    What has been clearly demonstrated in Charleston and Huntington which faced and is still dealing with the same type of unfunded liabilities is a lack of leadership.
    Mayor Jones would rather spend hundreds of thousands of dollars suing the WV Citizens Defense League and the state legislature and spend hundreds of $$ on silly and meaningless signs deriding firearms legislation passed by the legislature instead of dealing with REAL issues!
    Although not on the same scale, recently, the teacher's retirement fun had an unfunded liability that exceeded a billion dollars! Why? Same reason as Charleston and Huntington's mess. Politicians swept the problem under the rug because they knew if the taxpayers learned of these monumental problems they could deduce that tax increases were on the way. History repeats itself--especially when referring to politicians.

  • Joe

    Simply transition the pensions to 401k plans. Put it on a referendum and let the private tax paying public who pays for these generous benefits and who do not receive them decide.

  • Gary Karstens

    Danny Jones is a great mayor despite the same ole nagging critics that are a part of the problem. What are the critics solutions to this problem? YEESH!

  • Ut Oh

    Mark it down as passed, it will be law before you know it! Pony up visitors and residents of Charlston...

  • Raging Moderate

    Is the city still doing the pension thing for city employees currently working? Has this practice been transitioned over to a stocks and bonds system like private sectors do, and if so, when?

  • Tim C

    One more reason "home rule" is not a good idea. Cost cutting is not in the city's DNA. They'll not be satisfied until they tax everyone for everything.

  • The Answer

    Jones originally proposed raising trash and fire fees but it was determined that it would only cover increasing pension costs for a couple of years.
    Yeah right, actually what was determined only the people who actually live in Charleston were going to be paying the bill.
    And their the only people who get to vote in city elections.
    You can figure the rest of it out
    for yourself.

  • joke

    Just another reason to not go to Charleston. Bad parking bad
    crime etc. I'd rather drive someplace else. The city is dying. The answer isn't to tax everything.

  • Aaron

    Does this mean Dollar Danny, who became 2 Dollar Danny has to get a new nickname? Will he be known as a member of the 1 percenters?

  • Pickle Barrel

    Charleston is a dying city. Rampant crime, no businesses moving in, consistent population losses and nothing being done by Danny Jones to change anything other than raising taxes and having the police do a roundup of the usual suspects at the Transit Mall every month.

  • CaptainQ

    Looks like more Home Rule = more taxes.

    Some communities are already stretching the bounds of legal taxation already!

    Heard this morning that the town of Harrisville created a new business tax, making ALL businesses with the Harrisville zip code pay it, even those OUTSIDE OF THE CITY LIMITS! Thankfully, our NEW Attorney General's on the case to seek justice for those who are being illegally taxed.

    Really doubt our PREVIOUS Attorney General would've lifted a finger to help in a case like this, not unless there was some kind of payoff for him....

  • jeff wisdom

    What will cities do when they get home rule, raise taxes will probably be first on the list