Businesses in Old Town Cinema district fought property taxes

As reported in the Wichita Eagle by Brent Wistrom: “Business owners in a special taxing district surrounding the Old Town Warren Theatre have fought to have their property taxes reduced, forcing the city to cover debts incurred when the city bought land, installed utilities and built a park to spur the development.”

I guess no one wants to pay taxes, even when those taxes go to pay off bonds that benefited your property. That’s true even though the city has made a no-interest and low-interest loan to the primary business in this TIF district. As the Eagle story reports: “The move was seen as a way to ensure the theater’s success and give the TIF district a boost.”

We see the desire to skirt paying a full load of taxes playing out in the Power & Light District in Kansas City, Missouri, which is often cited as an example of what we’d like to have in Wichita. There, the Cordish Company refers to the project as an $850 million investment. But according to Kansas City Business Journal reporting, the company wants the appraised value for tax purposes to be just $12.3 million.

This didn’t go over well with the writer of an editorial in the same publication. The anonymous author wrote: “But for all of The Cordish Co.’s skill in conjuring the entertainment district, the developer doesn’t seem to miss an opportunity to kick its host community in the shins. The latest kick comes in the form of a protest by Cordish of the appraised value of the Power & Light District.”

Further: “Cordish isn’t bickering with the county about a slight variance in figures — it is claiming a value that is less than one-tenth of the county’s number.”

We don’t have many more details about the situation in Wichita. I’ve made a records request that should tell us which property owners appealed their tax valuations, their reasons why, and the result of the appeal.

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