Today, Americans for Prosperity and volunteers like me will turn in what they believe is enough signatures to meet the constitutional requirement for protesting a Wichita city charter ordinance. The ordinance in question would allow the Ambassador Hotel to retain 75 percent of the guest tax it collects.
Petition organizers plan to submit the petitions to the Wichita City Clerk at 3:30 pm on Monday. After that, the Sedgwick County Election Commissioner will determine if enough valid signatures were submitted. The timetable for this action is unknown.
The number of valid signatures required by the Kansas Constitution in this case is 2,528. Organizers set their goal to submit 3,500 signatures, as not all will be valid. That goal has been exceeded.
If enough valid signatures are submitted, under the usual course of affairs the Wichita City Council could do one of two things. One choice the council has is to rescind the ordinance, which would end the matter, and the guest tax ordinance would not take effect. The other choice the council can make is to call an election so that voters can decide whether the ordinance will take effect. A guess is that election would probably be held in February or March.
In the present case, however, the Wichita City Council has turned over the decision to the developers of the Ambassador Hotel. It will be their decision, and their expense — estimated at $50,000 — if they decide they want an election. It is not known if the city council will let the hotel developers decide on the date of the election.
Turning over a governmental decision like this to private interests is highly irregular, and is explained more in Wichita turns taxation over to private interests.