Jeff Longwell

Wichita City Council Member Jeff Longwell

North Dakota TIF video informative, reminiscent of Wichita

The North Dakota Policy Council has a video on YouTube that explains the mechanics of tax increment financing (TIF) districts and the public policy problems associated with TIF. The video is presented in three sections. The material in the first section is different from the way TIF districts work in Kansas, but the other two sections are very similar to the way the law works in Kansas. At the start of part 3 ("Problems with TIFs") the narrator states the problem succinctly: "Tax increment financing negatively affects everybody's property tax bill by taking the tax revenue from increased taxable valuations…
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On Wichita’s Exchange Place TIF, Janet Miller speaks

Last week's meeting of the Wichita City Council featured a message from Council Member Janet Miller that illustrated her firm belief in centralized government planning for the purposes of economic development. It also contained a material mistake in the understanding of the facts of the project. In her remarks from the bench, Miller disagreed with those who testify at council meetings against tax increment financing (TIF). She said there is much information that says this type of economic development incentive is effective. She said "Sometimes I wonder what city folks are living in when they talk about the negative, or…
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Wichita’s Jeff Longwell on TIF districts, tax abatements

Is a tax increment financing (TIF) district a tax abatement? Wichita city council member Jeff Longwell, now Wichita's vice mayor, doesn't think so. During this week's city council meeting, Longwell said this in explaining his support of a TIF district created for the benefit of Real Development: "One of the things that people I think need to understand is that this is not a tax abatement." He said tax revenues will increase from $28,000 to half a million dollars, repeating that it is not a tax abatement. So is it true that TIF is not a tax abatement? A little…
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Wichita Warren Theater IRB a TIF district in disguise

On Tuesday the Wichita City Council will consider an economic development incentive for a local business. The process the city is using to grant this incentive bypasses the scrutiny that accompanies the formation of TIF districts while providing essentially the same benefit. The proposal provides Industrial Revenue Bond financing to American Luxury Cinemas, Inc., d.b.a. 21st Street Warren Theatre, a company owned in part by Wichita theater operator Bill Warren. Under the city's IRB program, no city money is lent to Warren, and the city does not provide any guarantee that the bonds will be repaid. Instead, the benefit of…
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Waterwalk hotel issue receives public input

Tuesday's meeting of the Wichita city council featured a lengthy discussion of a proposal that in the past, might have been passed without much public discussion. Instead, some useful information emerged, and the meeting opened the possibility of more citizen input not only on this item, but also on future city initiatives. The issue is a proposal for a hotel in the city's WaterWalk district. My preview of the matter, which includes the city-supplied agenda report, is at Waterwalk hotel deal breaks new ground for Wichita subsidies. As an example of information that was revealed at this meeting, there was…
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Wichita city council discusses economic development incentives, again

At this week's meeting of the Wichita City Council, underperforming companies that have received economic incentives was at issue. Wichita grants incentives -- usually in the form of an escape from paying property taxes -- to companies. Usually there are conditions attached to the incentives, such as a certain amount of capital investment or employment targets. Recently -- and in the past two or so years -- several companies that received incentives have not met employment goals. Should the city rescind the tax breaks in these cases? Or should there be recognition that there's a tough economy at the moment,…
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Wichita city council discusses economic development incentives

Last week a Wichita company that's expanding made an application for industrial revenue bonds and accompanying property tax abatements. The company's application wasn't timely, and for that reason is not likely to receive the requested help. The discussion surrounding the item provides insight into city council members' ideas about the role of the city in economic development. Industrial revenue bonds, or IRBs, are not a loan from the city, and the city does not make any guarantee that the bonds will be repaid. The primary benefit to the recipient of IRBs is that the property purchased with the bonds will…
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Wichita City Arts tech studio proposed

Randy Roebuck, in a presentation at the Wichita city council workshop, promoted the idea of a "digital oasis" in Wichita. It would be a place where people can go to get free help with technologies such as cell phones and computers. He told of how an Apple Genius Bar does things like this. Council member Jim Skelton asked who runs an Apple Genius Bar? Apple Computer Corporation, of course. Later council member Paul Gray continued with questions based on Skelton's. Why not an Apple Genius Bar in Wichita? Why is the city competing with private business? City officials insist they…
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YMCA – Wichita conflict of interest

A local non-profit organization, held in high esteem, seeks to purchase property owned by the City of Wichita. So what's the problem? During his State of the City address for 2009, Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer revealed his plan for a partnership between the city and the YMCA. So far this partnership has revealed itself in the city's plan to sell some city-owned land at First and Waco Streets to the YMCA. Council members Jeff Longwell and Sharon Fearey were appointed to represent the city in negotiations. The problem is that Longwell is a member of the advisory board for the…
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Wichita TIF public hearing was bait and switch

This appeared in today's Wichita Eagle. On Tuesday December 2, 2008, the Wichita City Council held a public hearing on the expansion of the Center City South Redevelopment District, commonly known as the downtown Wichita arena TIF district. As someone with an interest in this matter, I watched the city's website for the appearance of the agenda report for this meeting. This document, also known as the "green sheets" and often several hundred pages in length, contains background information on items appearing on the meeting's agenda. At around 11:30 am Monday, the day before the meeting, I saw that the…
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