EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSCIVIC CENTER RENOVATIONS
from Eyewitness News Online
Charleston's Mayor Proposes Tax Increase To Fund Multimillion Dollar Upgrade
Reported by: Kennie Bass
Videographer: Troy Morgan, Matt Durrett
Web Producer: Kennie Bass
Also Contributing: Elizabeth Noreika
Reported: Feb. 19, 2013 5:23 PM EST
Updated: Feb. 20, 2013 9:36 AM EST
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
In the 53 years since it opened, the Charleston Civic Center has undergone several multimillion dollar renovations.
Mayor Danny Jones is proposing another one. Jones says the civic center needs a new ballroom, meeting rooms, kitchen and bathrooms, and he wants to raise the city sales tax by one half percent to fund the work which could cost as much as 60 million dollars.
"I've been around the country pitching Charleston to groups and we win when I go," Jones said. "But that can't last forever, not unless you do something with that. I wouldn't just throw this out unless I was sure of it."
The civic center can handle a variety of events and host up to six thousand attendees. Its general manager says an upgrade is vitally important to stay competitive with similar venues.
"The industry has changed," John Robertson, general manager of the Charleston Civic Center said. "A lot of money has been spent. Other communities have built new buildings. The level of competition has changed. The requirements for convention meeting planners has changed. And what we're gonna do is change with it. We're gonna develop a center that's going to meet their needs and make us more competitive."
Jones says he'll ask city council to approve his idea to help bring the civic center into the 21st century.
"I can remember my dad bringing me here as a kid to go to the circus and I think it's good for the whole community," JoAnn Workman of Charleston said. "I know people that even come from Huntington and other areas to come here and see gospel groups and that kind of stuff so, yeah."
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said Tuesday he wants Charleston to use its existing authority under the home rule program to make tax changes in the city to provide funding for much needed improvements at the Charleston Civic Center.
Rod Blackstone, assistant to the mayor, said under the mayor's proposals, the city would eliminate the business and occupation tax on manufacturing, reduce the business and occupation tax on retail from .5 percent to .35 percent and implement a half-penny sales tax in Charleston. Blackstone said automobiles and food would be exempted from the sales tax.
Jones' proposals would have to go before Charleston City Council and the West Virginia Home Rule Board, the state governing agency that oversees home rule.
The tax changes would raise about $3.6 million for Civic Center renovations. Combined with money generated from the Tax Increment Financing District, this would provide $45 million to $60 million for Civic Center renovations, Blackstone said.
Blackstone called the Civic Center "the No. 1 potential economic engine we have in the city."
City officials pointed out that the Civic Center is long overdue for renovations at a time when other properties surrounding it have received significant upgrades. Other adjacent properties that have been renovated and the amounts include Marriott Courtyard, $10 million; Holiday Inn Express, $3.5 million; Charleston Town Center, $7.1 million; Charleston Marriott, $8 million; Ramada/Recovery, $20 million; and Chase Tower, $4 million.
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