"Federal law will not allow low wages to be a competitive factor in bidding," White said, "since taxpayers will be paying for the Civic Center.
"Because taxpayers are footing the bill, our laws require there to be open competitive bidding. They cannot shut out and deny our local union contractors at that project. But that doesn't make what Wendell is doing right.
"What about all the local businesses that have been shut out? I would expect the mayor to come to their defense. If someone wants to do business in our city, they should make an effort to talk with them," White said.
Union construction workers typically make $27 an hour or more, plus benefits. Many workers at the Courtyard by Marriott project are getting paid only $9 or $10 an hour, White said.
Jones said union leaders including Kenny Perdue, president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, have helped promote renovation of the Civic Center.
"I believe we will break ground on that project in 18 months," Jones said. "We have a TIF [Tax Increment Financing] and one-half of 1 percent increase in sales taxes in Charleston on everything except food and cars.
"That new sales tax will help fund Civic Center renovations and our city pension systems.
"When the Civic Center renovation begins, I can't imagine it will be built by anything but union labor," Jones said.
Tax increment financing is a method that allows communities, under certain circumstances, to take property taxes from new projects -- and from other properties near those projects -- and use them to finance specific projects like the Charleston Civic Center upgrades.
Typically, property taxes go to counties, which typically use about two-thirds of the taxes they collect to fund school systems. The other third goes to fund county services, such as police and fire departments.
TIF taxes come from newly constructed buildings and from already existing buildings and properties in a nearby area known as the "TIF district."
White said, "Those areas could be as small as one block or half a city."
All property taxes assessed on the new Courtyard at Marriott will go into the TIF fund to finance renovation of the Civic Center, White said.
By increasing property values in the area, the Courtyard by Marriott should increase the values and taxes on other businesses and residences, such as the Captain D's and Shoney's restaurants or the Charleston Town Center Mall.
"If your property becomes worth 10 percent more because of a new TIF construction project, property taxes on those increased values will go into the TIF Fund," White said.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.