Tax abatements

Downtown Wichita Arena TIF District Still a Bad Idea

Say no to expansion of the Center City South Redevelopment tax increment financing (TIF) District. Remarks to be delivered at the December 2, 2008 meeting of the Wichita City Council. Watch the video here. Mr. Mayor, Members of the Council: It is the case the the City of Wichita is proposing to limit this TIF district spending to things like streets, intersections, landscaping, and lighting. But these are still things that developers working outside of TIF districts generally have to pay for themselves. This is the real function of TIF districts: TIF developers get to use their own property taxes…
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Wichita’s Naysayers Are Saying Yes to Liberty

Wichita politicians, newspaper editorial writers, and sometimes just plain folks are fond of bashing those they call the "naysayers," sometimes known as CAVE people. An example is from a recent Opinion Line Extra in the Wichita Eagle: An acquaintance in another city refers to the anti-everything people as "CAVE" people (Citizens Against Virtually Everything). I fear the GOP voters of western Sedgwick County have selected the ultimate CAVE person in Karl Peterjohn. Naysayers, too, can't be happy, according to a recent statement by Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer: "And I know that there‚Äôs always going to be people who are naysayers,…
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Kansas Giveaways to Wealthy Homeowners

A Wichita Eagle news story (Help with historic houses, July 4, 2008) describes two apparently wealthy College Hill homeowners who plan to benefit from Kansas tax credits. These credits are given to people who own homes that have a historic designation. If you own such a historic house and plan to, for example, replace the windows or the roof, the State of Kansas will give you a tax credit of up to 25%. Sounds like a good program, doesn't it? Tax credits -- do they cost the state anything when given? Tax credits mean that your taxes are reduced. Suppose…
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Wichita and the Old Town Warren Theater Loan

Remarks to be delivered to the Wichita City Council, July 1, 2008. Mr. Mayor and members of the Council, we are potentially beginning a journey down a road where there are two classes of businesses in Wichita. There are business owners who seek to earn their profit through market entrepreneurship, that is, by meeting the demands of their customers and the marketplace. That's a difficult thing to do. An entrepreneur must sense customer demand and desires, and then commit resources to satisfying customers. If entrepreneurs are correct in their judgments and successful in their execution, they earn profits. There are…
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Warren Old Town Wichita Theater: Good Money After Bad?

This letter is from my friend Darrell Leffew. Not everyone seems to understand the folly of throwing good money after bad. "Taxpayers are already on the hook" is Wichita city council member Jeff Longwell's opinion as expressed in a Wichita Eagle article. Mr. Longwell, I realize you weren't a member of the council when we taxpayers were placed on the hook, but don't help us on another, please. Let us not throw more good money after bad. The Wichita City Council has approved a business loan to the Limited Liability Company that owns the Old Town Warren Theater. That same…
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Wichita city manager’s warning is too late

On Tuesday June 16, 2008, the Wichita City Council agreed to lend the Old Town Warren Theatre's owners $6 million so they could keep the theater open. (City agrees to loan Warren $6 million June 18, Wichita Eagle). Wichita Interim City Manager Ed Flentje issued this warning to the council: "There are in this community much larger businesses with much larger employment who may see this opening as something that will open a door for those businesses to come and say, 'You've done it before, you can do it for us.'" Dr. Flentje, I hate to break the news to…
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Tax Abatements in Wichita

Remarks to Wichita City Council, June 3, 2008. A few months ago I spoke before this council asking that you not grant a tax abatement. At that time I was told that granting a property tax abatement doesn't have any impact on City of Wichita spending. I found this quite remarkable, that new homes and buildings can be built but not consume any additional resources that the city and other local governments supply. If this is truly the case, why should a new development of any type at any location have to pay any property tax at all? There is…
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How to pay for special tax treatment in Wichita

Remarks delivered to the Wichita City Council, April 15, 2008. Audio is available here. The company that this warehouse is being built for is Cessna. In the end, it is that company that benefits from the property tax relief asked for today. Mr. Mayor, members of the city council, I ask that you not vote to approve this request for a tax abatement, and that you cease this practice altogether. Alternatively, I ask that you adopt a practice that will help realize the costs of these actions. It is no doubt difficult to compete with other states when they offer…
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Remarks to Wichita City Council, April 1, 2008

Following are remarks I delivered to the Wichita City Council, asking them to not approve tax increment financing (TIF) for a project in Wichita. The council approved the financing by a vote of six to one. Thank you to council member Paul Gray for his dissenting vote. Mr. Mayor and members of the Wichita City Council, I ask you to not approve this TIF financing request, and to cease this practice in the future. We need to allow markets to channel capital and investment to where people value it greatest. The profit and loss system provides that guidance. By asking…
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