Tax increment financing

Wichita City Council’s misunderstanding of tax increment financing

On July 8, 2008 I testified at a public hearing at a Wichita city council meeting. Afterward, a council member told me that I had a "glaring error" in my arguments. I won't identify this member in order to avoid embarrassing the member. The minutes of the meeting don't identify the member who said this, but video is available. My purpose in testifying that day was not to question the merits of tax increment financing (TIF) districts. Instead, I was identifying an ethics problem that a Wichita school board member has regarding his involvement in a proposed TIF district. (See…
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Reverend Kevass Harding and His Wichita TIF District

Remarks to be delivered to the Wichita City Council, July 8, 2008. Mr. Mayor and members of the council, today I will not discuss the desirability of tax increment financing (TIF) districts in general, or the merits of this one in particular. I'll leave that for the August 12 public hearing. Instead, I wish to express my concerns about a thorny situation involving the applicant and overlapping governmental jurisdictions. In Wichita, Reverend Kevass Harding, a member of the USD 259 (Wichita public school district) board is also a real estate developer. His development group is asking the City of Wichita…
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In Wichita, is Economic Development Proven Public Policy?

In a statement read by Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and released on the city's website at Mayor Brewer Warren Theatre [sic] Statement, the mayor states "Economic development is proven public policy." The word "proven" was used several other times in the statement. (I don't know who wrote the title to the statement, but it combines the mayor's name with theater developer Bill Warren's name in a way that is, I am sure, unintentionally humorous. Mayor Brewer Warren? Who is he?) The Warren Theater economic development project is one example of economic development that has proven not to work, despite the…
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The harmful effects of Wichita’s special tax favors

In the past few weeks a handful of companies in Wichita have asked to be exempted from paying property taxes on investments they have made. This week Wichita may decide to grant special tax treatment to a large development in downtown Wichita. Is it wise for the City of Wichita to grant these special tax favors? Because capital for investment is in short supply, it is important that our economy allocate it where it does the most good, where it is valued most. Markets do a very good job of this when they operate free of government meddling. When government…
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Tax increment financing in Wichita benefits few

Today the Wichita City Council votes on granting $4.5 million in tax increment financing to a developer. Here's an article from August 17, 2006 that explains why the council should not approve this gift. (Note to The Wichita Eagle: Why not report stories like this a little earlier than the day the council is voting?) Recently the City of Wichita formed a TIF (tax increment financing) district to aid a developer who wishes to build in the College Hill neighborhood. How does a TIF district work? The Wichita Eagle reported: "A TIF district doesn't cost local governments any existing tax…
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