CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston's proposed half-cent sales tax inched ahead Monday as City Council members held a public hearing and introduced an ordinance related to the measure.
The sales tax, which Mayor Danny Jones first pitched in February to help pay for improvements to the aging Civic Center, could raise an estimated $6.2 million each year.
But Jones also wants to lower the business and occupation tax on retail sales and eliminate B&O taxes for manufacturers -- at a cost of $2.6 million a year.
City Treasurer Vic Grigoraci spoke out against the B&O tax reductions at the public hearing.
"I do commend the mayor for his proposal to improve the Civic Center. It sorely needs it," Grigoraci said. "And I support a sales tax.
"But I would ask that we comprehensively look at all our needs ... especially our underfunded police and fire pension funds.
"My real concern is the proposal to reduce and eliminate the B&O tax," he said. "I don't see the logic of giving up $2.6 million." The city has an unfunded pension liability of $352 million, with no clear plan to pay it off, he said.