TIF

Wichita’s evaluation of development team should be reconsidered

In an effort to avoid mistakes made in the past and inspire confidence in the process, parties wishing to receive economic development subsidies for projects in downtown Wichita are evaluated on a variety of measures. The evaluation matrix released for a project to be considered next week by the Wichita City Council, however, ought to be recalculated. City documents describe one of two competing projects as this: "River Vista is proposed by River Vista LLC, a development group comprised of George Laham, Dave Burk, Dave Wells and Bill Warren." It's this ownership team that ought to cause the city concern.…
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Job creation and the snake oil of tax incentives

Here's an interesting article by Mark Funkhouser, who recently served as mayor of Kansas City, Missouri. It starts off well, but in the second paragraph derails when the author approves of government intervention to correct what he calls a market failure. But true cases of market failure are exceedingly rare. And if we can justify subsidizing a grocery store in an attempt to revitalize a neighborhood, what can't we justify subsidizing? Still, a useful article. Every politician wants to appear to be creating jobs. The problem is that in America today most elected officials think that the way to do…
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Paying taxes, but not quite

A complicated economic development mechanism used in Wichita hides the true business welfare transaction. In today's Wichita Eagle "serial entrepreneur" and hotelier Jack DeBoer talks about a new apartment project to be built in downtown Wichita, just across the Arkansas River from the WaterWalk development. In the article, the reporter writes: The Wichita apartments are expected to be complete by spring 2014, DeBoer said. They will be on 4.4 acres of city-owned land, which Value Place is leasing for $1 a year for 93 years. That agreement was approved by the Wichita City Council last September. DeBoer noted that Value…
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Derby forms a TIF district

The city of Derby, Kansas has formed a tax increment financing (TIF) district. TIF is a method of diverting the normal flow of property tax revenue so that it benefits private interests rather than the public treasury. In Kansas, cities form TIF districts. Then, any affected county and school district may vote to veto its formation. They have 30 days to do this. If they take no action, they lose their ability to veto, and the TIF district is created. The Sedgwick County Commission will consider whether to veto the formation of this TIF district next Wednesday. Here are documents…
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Ambassador Hotel Industrial Revenue Bonds

The City of Wichita should not approve a measure that is not needed, that does not conform to the city's policy (based on relevant information not disclosed to citizens), and which is steeped in cronyism. This week the Wichita City Council will consider authorizing industrial revenue bonds (IRB) for the Ambassador Hotel project in downtown Wichita. In most cases, the major benefit of IRBs is exemption from paying property taxes. Since the Ambassador Hotel is located within a tax increment financing (TIF) district, it's not eligible for property tax abatement. (Because of the TIF, the developers have already achieved the…
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Wichitans have choices; perhaps not information

The Wichita Eagle publishes a voter guide before each election. While this is a useful civic service, readers of the newspaper might wonder what is the point of allowing candidates to make statements and claims without being held accountable. Here are two examples of candidates responding to the question "Assess the city's success in downtown revitalization so far. How do you see that role evolving in the future?" Council Member Lavonta Williams (district 1, northeast Wichita) responded as follows: The trend in downtown redevelopment is showing a definite payoff in private investment exceeding $250 million since 2009. People are moving…
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Developer welfare expanded in Kansas

This week the Kansas House of Representatives considered a bill that would expand the application of tax increment financing (TIF) and community improvement district taxes. The bill, HB 2086, is not a major expansion, but is still harmful. On Monday the bill failed to pass, with 61 members voting in favor, and 60 against. (63 votes are needed to pass a bill.) On the following day, Rep. Scott Schwab made a motion to reconsider. If agreed to, Schwab's motion would force another vote on the passage of the bill. The motion passed, and when the vote on the bill was…
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Carl Brewer: The state of Wichita, 2013

Much like President Barack Obama in his recent inaugural address, Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer displayed his collectivist instincts in his "State of the City" address for 2013. His speech, as prepared, may be read here. Opening, the mayor said "Wichita has overcome great challenges in the past and will overcome these as well, but we’ll need to work together." Near the close, the mayor said "THE TIME FOR ACTION IS NOW! We have reached a point where we MUST come together as a community, and create a plan that defines our priorities and the City we are to become." And…
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Bowllagio property purchases seem overpriced

As part of a planned real estate development, taxpayers may be asked to pay property owners much more than the appraised values for the parcels. According to documents obtained from the Wichita city manager's office, developers of Bowllagio have budgeted to pay a collective $1,110,300 over the property's appraised values. This is 63 percent over the appraised values for the 14 parcels. The source of funds for these purchases is a proposed tax increment financing (TIF) district created for the benefit of Maize 54, LLC, the developer of Bowllagio. The Wichita City Council approved the formation of the district on…
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