CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston City Council members created an account for the money from the city's new 0.5 percent sales tax, and the revenue from that tax will start coming in February, city Finance Director Joe Estep told council members Monday.Businesses in city limits began charging the tax in October, at the same time city officials removed the business and occupation tax on manufacturing in the city.By placing the sales tax revenue in a separate fund -- the first of its kind for the city, according to City Manager David Molgaard -- Charleston will pay off bonds issued for renovations to the Civic Center.Once its annual financial obligation is fulfilled, council members could move what is left over to the general revenue fund."We can do that without there being any ambiguity as to whether these are general funds," Molgaard said.Molgaard said the city is conducting interviews this week for a design consultant for the Civic Center's upgrades.In other business, Mayor Danny Jones said he's going to Washington, D.C., today<co tues> to discuss Charleston's Amtrak service with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.Jones said service in Charleston has gone from three trains a day in the 1950s to three trains per week."I'm going to tell him about the fact that the trains are packed all the time, and they still lose money," Jones said. "They always will."
Also Monday:* The Metro Drug Enforcement Network Team received a federal High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area grant totaling $148,000.The grant will provide $102,000 for six Charleston Police Department officers to serve on MDENT; $17,000 to assign one officer to the Drug Enforcement Administration; $25,000 to spend on evidence and information; and $4,800 for the use of a vehicle.The HIDTA program helps police in areas designated "critical drug trafficking regions," according to the U.S. Office of National Drug Policy website.* City officials tried to allay Councilman Cubert Smith's concerns what he called dumping by West Virginia American Water at a site on Milton Street.
City Planning Director Dan Vriendt said dumping "is not a good term." The company recently decided to store its fill temporarily -- dirt removed from project sites -- at another lot on Milton Street. Recent rains caused the dirt and silt to run off into the streets, but the city is taking steps to make sure it doesn't adversely affect the neighborhood, Vriendt said.
The water company will have to put up silt fencing to control sediment runoff, as well as lay gravel so mud doesn't get tracked into the street, he said."It's something the city is going to have to monitor," Vriendt said.In other business, council members:* Created an account at JP Morgan Chase Bank for the city's flexible spending account. City employees who choose to pay for their medical benefits using the account will now be able to use a prepaid card for medical costs instead of being reimbursed.* Entered into an agreement with the state Division of Motor Vehicles that will allow the city to obtain information necessary for processing and issuing parking tickets.* Created a stop intersection on Wood Road and New School Road that requires southbound vehicles on Wood Road to stop. Northbound vehicles on Wood Road are also required to stop except when turning right, according to the bill.
* Recognized and praised Councilman Mike Stajduhar -- a Republican representing Charleston's 7th Ward -- for his service on City Council. Stajduhar resigned earlier this month, as he is moving to Indiana for family reasons. Jones said his appointment of Adam Knauff as Stajduhar's replacement will be handled at the Jan. 6 council meeting.Council confirmed the following appointments Monday night:* Jeff Brown, Bill Mills and Councilman Chris Dodrill were reappointed to the Charleston Land Trust, with terms that expire in October 2016.* Bobbi Holland was appointed to the Municipal Beautification Commission as Mary Ann McMillion's replacement. Her term expires in September 2016.* Michael Cary was appointed to the Civic Center board as Abby Sobonya's replacement. His term expires in June 2015.* Nikki Moses was appointed to the Municipal Planning Commission as Jackie Rosencrance's replacement. Her term expires in July 2015.Reach Rachel Molenda at firstname.lastname@example.org