The Charleston Civic Center was built in 1950 and last renovated in 1980. But it's a powerful economic engine that helps to bring an estimated $580 million in tourist business to West Virginia's capital city each year.
It would be pennywise and pound foolish not to build on what the Civic Center offers.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones proposes to spend $45 million to $60 million to expand and modernize the facility, which has lost about $28 million in bookings because it can't accommodate some groups.
Some of the money for debt service would come from a special tax district already in place in the area around the Civic Center. That will produce about $600,000 a year for renovations.
City leaders want City Council to pass an ordinance enacting a half-percent city sales tax to help with debt service. It would generate about $6.17 million in revenue per year.
But that would be partially offset by a much-needed reduction in the business and occupation tax rates for manufacturing and retail businesses. The net revenue increase would amount to an estimated $3.57 million a year.
This combination would be good for Charleston.
It would fund work in the long-term best interests of the city while making the city more attractive to manufacturing and retail businesses.
The phrase "tax increasssse" is said with a hiss these days, and for understandable reasons. But a half-percent city sales tax would amount to a 5-cent increase on a $10 purchase.
That's a bearable price for progress. Furthermore, people who visit the city would be helping to fund the improvements that would help attract more visitors.
City Council should pass the ordinance, and the state's Home Rule Board should allow it to go into effect without delay.
It would be smart to improve the Civic Center, and smart to reduce city B&O taxes that deter investment.