CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- If you buy something in the city of Charleston, it could soon cost you more.
At a news conference Tuesday, Mayor Danny Jones announced the city is looking to add a sales tax and either reduce or eliminate the current B&O tax to help fund renovations at the Charleston Civic Center.
"This is the opportunity, this is the way, this is the only way," Mayor Danny Jones said. "Anybody who comes out against this, I would ask them, what is your way? Do you have a way?"
Under the plan, the city would reduce the B&O tax on retail and eliminate the tax for manufacturing businesses. This move would cost the city $2.6 million per year. However, the city plans to generate even more revenue by implementing a sales tax.
Under this initiative, consumers would be charged a .5 percent sales tax on clothing and retail items. For example, if you spend $200 at the Charleston Town Center, it would cost you a $1 more. Food, gas and vehicles would be exempt from this tax.
The city believes this new tax would generate $3,575,000 more than it currently does with the current B&O tax.
Jones says the extra revenue would help the city renovate and expand the Civic Center to be more competitive in the 21st century market.
"If we don't do this, it won't get done," Jones said. "There's a need, and we need to do it now."
Jones says this is the best hope for improving the convention business in Charleston.
This plan would have to be approved by City Council and the Home Rule Board.
"When people look off the interstate, they'll see something dazzling," Jones said. "It will enhance all that growth that's going on all around us."
If the plan moves forward, the city would use the additional funding from the sales tax to add a new ballroom at the Civic Center that would seat 1,500 and be about 18,000 to 20,000 square feet. The Civic Center would also gain 5,000 square feet of additional new, state-of-the-art meeting space to meet the needs of convention and special event planners.
"The community has changed, the industry has changed and Charleston needs to change if we're going to remain competitive," Civic Center General Manager John Robertson said. "It is a significant economic driver in this community, and improvements and additions to the building will make it bigger and better and generate more economic revenues to Charleston as a result."
The city is also looking to improve the entrances, lighting and sound systems. The project would also include adding a new climate control HVAC System and new kitchen and catering areas.
Right now, there is not an official plan for architecture, but the city estimates the renovations and expansion at the civic center would cost $45 to 60 million.
During the news conference, the city released pictures of what they envision for the future of the Civic Center. One picture shows what the view would look like from the Elk River.
City Manager David Molgaard says this will "be the biggest economic driver" in the city.
Jones also announced at the meeting, this plan would not change the city's current user fee. Anyone who works in the city pays $2 a week for the user fee.
The city has spent the last decade studying how to transform the Civic Center into a convention center.
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