Wichita city government

Tax increment financing in Wichita benefits few

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 money. It takes property taxes paid on new construction that would ordinarily go into government coffers and redirects it to the bond holders who are financing the project." In the present case, the value of the benefit the developer sought is estimated to be worth $3.5 million to $4 million. Whether this benefit is given…
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Consider carefully costs of a new Wichita airport terminal

As Wichita considers building a new terminal at its airport, we should pause to consider the effect an expensive new terminal would have on the cost of traveling to and from Wichita, and by extension, the economic health and vitality of our town. My reading reveals that airlines are starting to become alarmed at the high costs some airports charge airlines for using their facilities. A recent Wall Street Journal article ("Airports Start to Feel the Sting Of Airline Cost-Cutting Efforts" published on May 17, 2006) reads, in part: The same economic forces in the air-travel business that have created…
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Remarks to Wichita City Council Regarding the AirTran Subsidy on July 11, 2006

Mr. Mayor, Members of the City Council: You may recall that I have spoken to this body in years past expressing my opposition to the AirTran subsidy. At that time we were told that the subsidy was intended to be a short-tem measure. Today, four years after the start of the subsidy, with state funding planned for the next five years, it looks as though it is a permanent fixture. Supporters of the subsidy have made a variety of claims in its support: that the subsidy and the accompanying Fair Fares program are responsible for $4.8 billion in economic impact,…
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Reporting on Wichita’s new terminal

A Wichita Eagle article published on June 29, 2006 explores the need for a new terminal at the Wichita Airport. I have some issues with the reporting in this article, as it is quite biased in favor of those advocating the new terminal. When you combine people eager to spend others' money with sloppy newspaper reporting we have a situation where reason -- not to mention sanity -- is not likely to prevail. An example of the sloppy reporting is when it is noted that the existing terminal was dedicated in 1954, and the director of airports is quoted as…
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What’s Good for Gander Not Good For Goose

The July, 2006 issue of Budget & Tax News reports that Gander Mountain is opposing the giving of tax breaks to its competitors. A quote from the article: Fairness Is Questioned However, Gander Mountain and its developer, Oppidan Investment Co., argue granting special favors to any one retailer leads down a slippery slope. "If you give [a tax break] to a Wal-Mart, should you give it to Target? If you give it to Home Depot, then should you give it to Lowe's? And if you give it to Bass Pro, shouldn't you give it to Cabela's and Gander Mountain? How…
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What to do with others’ money

Writing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania In a June 20, 2006 Wichita Eagle editorial, Rhonda Holman writes about the WaterWalk project in Wichita. Evidently there is controversy over the public not knowing the name of the "destination restaurant" that is being courted and favored with a gift of $1 million. To me, the controversy is not the identify of the restaurant or when and how the city should conduct its negotiations, but that we are paying for a restaurant to be built. We are not lacking for fine restaurants in Wichita. On both the east and west sides of town (and other…
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The AirTran subsidy and its unseen effects

Writing from Natchez, Mississippi In a June 16, 2006 column, Wichita Eagle editorial writer Rhonda Holman again congratulates local and state government for its success in renewing the AirTran subsidy, and for getting the entire state of Kansas to help for it. We should take a moment to understand, however, that while the allure of the subsidy is undeniable, it may eventually extract a high price on Wichita. Currently, the legacy airlines provide service to Wichita and other small markets partly because they feel a duty to provide comprehensive, nationwide service. But that may be changing. In an article titled…
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Arts funding in Wichita produces controversy

As local government tries to decide which arts and cultural institutions are to receive government funds, controversy arises. A June 8, 2006 Wichita Eagle article titled "Arts panel biases alleged" tells how some funding applicants are upset that some of the members of the funding committee have ties to organizations that also applied for funds. In an editorial titled "Let Arts Funding Work" published in the June 10, 2006 Wichita Eagle, Rhonda Holman writes "The process may not be perfect, but it's a precious opportunity for public dollars to be invested in the arts and attractions in a merit-based way…
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Let markets fund arts and culture

Writing from Miami, Florida Former Wichita City Council member and present Arts Council chairwoman Joan Cole wrote an article titled "City needs dedicated arts funding" that appeared in the March 16, 2006 Wichita Eagle. This article advocates continued and increased government funding for arts in Wichita. In her article Mrs. Cole mentions a policy that she seems to approve of: "Moreover, for the first time, performance measures and desired outcomes will be used to assess the progress that these organizations demonstrate." The organizations are the various groups that will receive funding from the City of Wichita. I do not know…
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AirTran subsidy is harmful

(This is a longer version of my opinion piece that appeared in The Wichita Eagle last week.) From the beginning, we in the Wichita area have been told each year that the AirTran subsidy was intended as a temporary measure, that soon AirTran would be able to stand on its own, and there will be no need to continue the subsidy. Mayor Mayans said as much last year, and so did City Manager Kolb this year. But State Senator Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, on a recent television program, may have made a revealing slip when she referred to the AirTran subsidy…
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