More intervention for Wichita proposed

Tomorrow the Wichita City Council will consider accepting petitions for the formation of another Community Improvement District. In this case the applicant is the Broadview Hotel in downtown Wichita.

This hotel is already the recipient of potentially $4.75 million in Kansas historic preservation tax credits. Despite the name of the program, the tax credits are in effect a grant of money to the developers.

Now the hotel seeks permission to charge extra sales tax for its own benefit.

The action the council may take tomorrow is on the consent agenda, as noticed by the Wichita Eagle’s Brent Wistrom. The consent agenda is usually reserved for non-controversial items. It’s likely that many more CIDs will be proposed, so many that accepting petitions requesting their formation is now considered a routine item of business.

Each CID, however, must have a public hearing. But already council members have indicated they are ready to approve all CIDs, and council members are not receptive to opposition, if a televised overheard whispered remark by one council member is any indication.

Separately a proposed downtown Wichita grocery store gets government assistance. Announced by the Kansas Department of Commerce, the Exchange Market & Deli in downtown Wichita can receive $2.5 million in government stimulus financing. The bonds are exempt from federal income taxes, and the federal government pays 45 percent of the interest. It’s part of President Obama’s stimulus program.

The project this grocery store is attached to — Exchange Place — is the beneficiary of over $10 million in Wichita tax increment financing. That is, if the developers, Real Development, can close on their financing of a nearby project. That financing has been delayed several times.

Each of these projects is another example of increasing government intervention in the future of downtown Wichita. Each represents a loss of economic freedom to Wichitans, as the city council uses taxes to override the decisions that thousands of Wichitans have made as to where to live and locate their business. Some of the city council members that consistently vote for these interventions describe themselves as conservative.

6 Comments

  • Anonymous -

    “Each represents a loss of economic freedom to Wichitans,..”

    Aren’t you being a little melodramatic? How is this the “loss of economic freedom”?

  • The ol’ Broadview is now the Drury Inn.

    As to the loss of economic freedom, I’d say that anytime you need to get the city council to approve a special provision so your business plan can be viable is another piece of deterioration of the idea that we are all equal without having to trek on down to the city council for our special taxing district.

    In addition, consumers will find out a crazy quilt of varying sales tax rates between properties with and without these CID sales taxes.

  • Economic freedom is the right to do what you wish with what you earn. The Wichita City Council seems to think it’s their right to do what they wish with what you earn.

    You may accuse Bob of being melodramatic based on scale of the problem (i.e. it’s only a little infringement on economic freedom), but not long ago the same could be said for federal intrusion into the private economy. Today those small federal intrusions are trillion-dollar monstrosities.

  • Anonymous -

    Still waiting for a reply as to how this is an intrusion into our economic freedom. No doubt I won’t get an answer because ideologists can’t debate outside of their limited grasp of how the world should work.

    @Joseph. Good definition, but one of many. Given your definition, how is this an infringement on your economic freedom?

  • Anonymous -

    When a person is as condescending as “Anonymous” I don’t think they’re really wanting a discussion. They just want to hurl petty and snide insults. I would urge Bob not to waste his time on this person, and to spend his time engaging with serious people who don’t throw insults at those they disagree with.

    Behind a veil of anonymity, I might add.

  • Anonymous -

    Condescending? Snide insults? Hardly. This “blog” is extremely critical of elected officials at all level and offers unsubstantiated opinion/commentary such as the one that is illustrated above. At least Joseph offered a definition which can provide some reference as to whether or not someone’s economic freedom is being lost.

    Bob is quick to criticize any that don’t see things from his ideologic perspective or if they make decisions that don’t fall in line with ideaology. Furthermore, he wants to pretend that as a blogger he is entitled to rights of the media. If so, then he should learn to take a little heat for his musings.

    It is funny that those who cannot defend their position attempt to ignore hard questions by counter-attacking. Instead of being Bob’s rottweiler, maybe you should instead ask him to answer the question, “What econcomic freedom is being lost”?

    Shouldn’t be too difficult a question to answer.

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