The state gets a small cut of that. "Current state code allows us to collect a 1 percent administrative fee and that is what we're going to do," Oakes said. That would trim the city's estimated net to $6,113,250.
Merchants will begin sending tax collections to the state a month after the tax takes effect, Oakes said. Depending on their sales volume, some send in monthly returns, some quarterly and a few just once a year.
Charleston won't get its first payment until early January, and then every three months after that.
"As we collect these revenues, they'll go into a special revenue fund," City Manager David Molgaard said.
The law passed by City Council says the primary purpose for the City Sales and Use Tax Fund is to pay down bonds or other financial obligations for Civic Center improvements.
But it also allows some wiggle room. Any money left over can be transferred to the city's general revenue fund.
The sales tax isn't the only funding source for the Civic Center, but it's by far the largest one. Last year the city also set up a TIF (tax-increment financing) district covering a wide swath of downtown that includes most of the major hotels plus the Charleston Town Center Mall.
The idea is that any additional property taxes generated by improvements within the district would go toward the Civic Center. The mall has been doing some upgrading, as are several hotels, while a Marriott Courtyard is rising near Elk River.
"We just saw the first money come in from that ... not much," Molgaard said. "There's a year time lag."
TIF district funds could be used to support bond issue, and the sales tax revenues could support another bond issue, Molgaard said. Alternatively, the city could draw down some tax revenues on a pay-as-you-go basis.
"Right now we're in the procurement process for design of the Civic Center project. Eventually we'll have development costs. Based on our preliminary analysis we're looking to pursue a project of up to $50 million.
"Our initial analysis, because TIF bonds can only go out 20 years, $6 or $7 million for an initial bond issue from the TIF district. The balance, $43 to $44 million, would come from the sales tax."
Molgaard was leery about predicting any leftover sales tax revenues.
"Fifty million dollars is a lot money but, when you look at what it cost to build the Clay Center, that money could go very quickly."
Like the recent improvements at Haddad Riverfront Park, Molgaard hopes to use a design/build process at the Civic Center, where the same team that designs the project oversees its construction.
"We will select a design/build team through a competition. The goal is to have a guaranteed maximum price and have at least three design firms tell us what they can provide for the budget."
The goal is to encourage creativity, he said. "When you think about updating the exterior, there are multiple routes you can go."
All this will take time, at least several years.
"I really hope to have the consultant piece moving forward next month," Molgaard said. "Maybe by this time next year we'll have picked a design/build team who will spend the next year, year and a half, designing the project."Reach Jim Balow at ba...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.