Today’s Wichita Eagle contains a story about a well-known Wichita real estate developer that, while shocking, shouldn’t really be all that unexpected.
The opening sentence of the article (Developer appealed taxes on city-owned property) tells us most of what we need to know: “Downtown Wichita’s leading developer, David Burk, represented himself as an agent of the city — without the city’s knowledge or consent — to cut his taxes on publicly owned property he leases in the Old Town Cinema Plaza, according to court records and the city attorney.”
Some might say it’s not surprising that Burk represented himself in the way the Eagle article reports. When a person’s been on the receiving end of so much city hall largess, it’s an occupational hazard.
For Wichita real estate developer David Burk of Marketplace Properties, being on the receiving end of sweetheart lease deals with the City of Wichita is becoming a habit.
Wichita developer David Burk remains in favor at city hall despite allegations.
To protect itself against self-defeating appeals of property valuation in tax increment financing districts, the City of Wichita once included a protective clause in developer agreements. But this consideration is not present in two proposed agreements.
Yesterday’s meeting of the Wichita City Council provided a lesson in how frustrating it can be for citizens to interact with city government.
You might even have to endure a slight insult from our mayor.
The Wichita Business Journal reports that without historic tax credits, some redevelopment projects might stop.
In other words — the Business Journal isn’t quite so blunt — if taxpayers don’t give developers money, some of their projects might not be economically feasible. Or so the developers say.
Tuesday’s Wichita City Council meeting will provide an opportunity for the mayor, council members, and city hall staff to let Wichitans know if our city is governed by the rule of law and proper respect for it, or if these values will be discarded for the convenience of one person and his business partners.
Recently the City of Wichita held a stakeholder meeting regarding Community Improvement Districts and the city’s policies regarding them.
While the term “stakeholder” is vague and means different things to different people, you might think that such a gathering might include representatives from the community at large. In an effort to achieve diversity, you know.
Instead, the meeting was stacked almost exclusively with those who have an interest in extracting as much economic subsidy as possible from the city.
Making contributions to candidates for political office is part of the American political process. But for the Wichita City Council, we see a troubling trend of contributions made by people who also ask the council for money.
Wichita needs to be concerned why the city’s political and bureaucratic leadership is not “forthcoming and honest” with citizens regarding economic development results.
Citizens of Wichita are rightly concerned about whether our elected officials and bureaucrats are looking out for their interests, or only for the interests and welfare of a small group of city hall insiders.
The evaluation matrix released for a project to be considered next week by the Wichita City Council ought to be recalculated.
In a free society with a limited government, taxation should be restricted to being a way for government to raise funds to pay for services that all people benefit from. But in the city of Wichita, taxation for private gain is overtaking our city.
The City of Wichita Department of Fiance has prepared an update on the financial performance of the Old Town Cinema Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District. There’s not much good news in this document.
While the dedication ceremonies for Wichita’s Waltzing Waters fountain are promoted as celebrations, we might use this opportunity to review the history and impact of WaterWalk, which has absorbed many millions of taxpayer subsidy with few results.
In a free society with a limited government, taxation should be restricted to being a way for government to raise funds to pay for services that all people benefit from. But in the city of Wichita, private tax policy is overtaking our city.
Yesterday’s meeting of the Wichita City Council revealed a council — except for one member — totally captured by special interests, to the point where the council, aided by city staff, used a narrow legal interpretation in order to circumvent a statutorily required public hearing process.
As part of the subsidy plan for Douglas Place, a downtown Wichita hotel being proposed, developers plan to make extensive use of historic preservation tax credits to fund their project. This form of developer welfare, besides being inefficient, is largely hidden from public view.
A recent Wichita Eagle editorial starts with this: “Seven years into a project that was supposed to give Wichita a grand gathering place full of shops, restaurants and night spots as well as offices and condos, some City Council members and citizens remain skeptical at best about WaterWalk’s ability to deliver on its big promises. … True, the skepticism to date is richly deserved.”
The editorial goes on to report that public investment in this project has risen to $41 million. I don’t know if this figure includes long-term land leases for $1 per year.
In any case, there’s little to show for this investment. Even the proposal for the redevelopment of downtown Wichita from the planning firm Goody Clancy realizes that WaterWalk is a failure.
An incentives agreement the Wichita city council passed on first reading is missing several items that city policy requires. How the council and city staff handle the second reading of this ordinance will let us know for whose interests city hall works: citizens, or cronies.