Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer’s Reformulated TIF Plan Still a Bad Idea


Today the Wichita City Council holds a special meeting to consider a reformulated plan to provide tax increment financing (TIF) for the area surrounding the downtown Wichita arena. It’s still a bad idea.

It appears there are two major changes in the new plan. First, the TIF district is smaller. Second, spending on the district would be 70 percent of the new property taxes — the “increment” — instead of 100 percent.

Why is this plan a bad idea? Why, you may be asking, aren’t I in favor of development and progress in downtown?

To me, there’s a difference between entrepreneurs working in markets and government centralized planning. That’s one of the reasons why I oppose this TIF district. It represents government making plans for us, rather than people deciding themselves what they want. It’s the difference between political entrepreneurs — who work to please elected officials — and market entrepreneurs — who work to please customers.

If it turns out that when people express their preferences freely that they don’t really want much downtown development, that’s okay with me. I, for one, do not feel that I have the superior knowledge needed to tell people where they should go for fun and entertainment. I’d rather let people decide themselves.

I’m not willing to use the blunt tool of government to direct people and their money to where I think it should go. I wouldn’t do that even if I was convinced I was right.

But there are people in Wichita who don’t share my view of free people trading freely in free markets. Mayor Carl Brewer and several city council members — Sharon Fearey and Lavonta Williams being most prominent among them — and quasi-governmental organizations such as the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation feel differently. They feel that they know better than Wichitans do where development should be happening, and they’re willing to use the tools of government to force their vision upon you.

This is what’s happening at this time. This is why Wichitans need to oppose this TIF district.

Other article about TIF districts in Wichita: Do Wichita TIF Districts Create Value?, Downtown Wichita Arena TIF District, Wichita City Council’s Misunderstanding of Tax Increment Financing, Tax Increment Financing in Wichita Benefits Few, Tiff over Wichita TIFs, and Wichita City Manager’s Warning is Too Late.


3 responses to “Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer’s Reformulated TIF Plan Still a Bad Idea”

  1. Robert

    Newly elected Mayor Brewer was elected on a platform of change (sounds familiar) but finances at City hall are in trouble. The Mayor and City council continue to throw our tax dollars around like if it was their money. The TIF districts downtown benefiting the “Minnesota Guys” are in real financial trouble since these developers are not being able to sell their condo units and are having trouble financing their exposure. These developers are already visiting with the Mayor about a bailout plan. The Arena TIG will suffer too.

  2. Helen

    I agree with Robert about the Minnesota developers and their TIF, but I don’t know enough about the Arena infrastructure. I work at City hall, I can tell you that the Mayor and City council have one of the highest traveling budgets ever while taking all of their friends on “sister cities vacations”. The total Sister Cities budget in 2003 was $15,0000 and the Mayor spent on the China trip tickets alone $16,000. Last month to Mexico he took almost a dozen friends. Since there is no one working in the Mayor’s office they now have an overtime budget of more than $20,000 where none existed before. Now that is CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN.

  3. Ok, I will agree for the sake of agreement, but now let’s move forward. I would like to challange the writer and anyone else to offer an idea of the future which will move ICT as a leader in something, besides aerospace. What will raise my home value? Where will my children work in the future? What can ICT sell to the rest of the country? the World? How can we stop the cyclical unemployment of aerospace? How do you get people to choose without Gov’t offering choices? And which market entrepreneurs do we trust enough to lead us into the future? I don’t mean to be challanging, but why would you want to waste your time discussing someone elses vision when you haven’t presented one of your own. Or maybe you have, but no one supported it? If gov’t is inherently bad, then why don’t we revolutionlize the way we govern in KS? But isn’t gov’t of the people all ready? We did vote so this must be where the majority want to go. Please, offer me some alternatives.

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