Supporters of a guest tax rebate program for Wichita’s Ambassador Hotel don’t tell you that the vote on February 28th concerns only one of the potential nine taxpayer-funded government subsidy programs for the hotel.
Voting No on February 28th leaves eight government subsidy programs in place. Only one program is affected.
Here are the government subsidy eight programs the hotel already has in place that will not be affected by the February 28th election:
- $3,325,000 in tax increment financing. This diverts money from services like police, fire, and schools to provide benefits to the developers, in this case parking for the hotel.
- $4,245,000 in city funding under the capital improvement plan (CIP), to build parking for the hotel.
- $3,800,000 in tax credits from the State of Kansas. Taxpayers across Kansas have to make up this missing revenue.
- $3,500,000 in tax credits from the U.S. government. Taxpayers across the country have to make up this missing revenue.
- $537,075 in sales tax exemptions on purchases during the construction and furnishing of the hotel. That’s missing revenue that other Kansas taxpayers have to make up.
- $60,000 per year in community improvement district (CID) sales tax. The hotel charges an extra two cents per dollar sales tax, which the state returns to the hotel.
- $127,499 per year (estimated) in rental revenue to the developers from a sweetheart lease deal.
- Participation in Wichita’s facade improvement program, which provides special assessment financing that is repaid.
All told, this project will receive $15,407,075 in taxpayer funds to get started, with additional funds provided annually.
The election on February 28th concerns one additional government subsidy program: $134,000 per year in guest taxes. A special city charter ordinance would allow the hotel to keep 75 percent of the guest tax it collects, instead of that revenue going to the city’s convention and tourism fund. This is the ordinance that is the subject of the February 28th election.
A vote of No keeps eight government subsidy programs in place. These generous taxpayer-funded programs should be enough.