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.