Wichita Residential Property Tax Relief Requested

Following are remarks that Wichita businessman Craig Gabel delivered to the February 10, 2009 meeting of the Wichita city council. I think Gabel’s idea has some merit. One thing I don’t quite understand is his proposal for “a credit on each residential property owners’ tax statement.” I will ask him for clarification as to how this would work. More information about the Proposition K that Gabel refers to can be found here.

After Gabel spoke, council member Paul Gray expressed the desire to start discussions on this matter now that the new city manager is in place. Mayor Carl Brewer expressed concern about the benefits and long-term impact of Proposition K. Gray pointed out to Brewer that some of the cities the mayor thinks Wichita should emulate have lower property taxes than we do, but at the cost of higher sales tax. In this exchange, it seems that the mayor realizes that higher taxes are bad for business — at least the aircraft business.

Here are Gabel’s remarks and the video of his presentation:

I come before you today to ask you to place a 1% sales tax ordinance, on the April City election Ballot, for city of Wichita residential property tax relief. I am not asking you to reduce mill levies or limit your ability to fund City budgets.

I ask that we give voters an opportunity to vote on a 1% sales tax that would show as a credit on each residential property owners’ tax statement. In addition in your packet you can find an outline for a property tax relief known as Proposition K. It calls for a freeze on property values, and an annual increase of 2%, for our purposes we are only dealing with residential properties.

The people of our great city are ready for this change. I have talked to literally thousands of people in Wichita and Sedgwick County and this subject is foremost on their minds. The reasons are many. Some are senior citizens that have seen virtually no income growth over the past decade. Most are working age adults that have seen a meager 30% increase in income while appraised values have increased 100% and property taxes have seen a 97% increase. All are ready to share the burden of the cost of local government.

There are several other advantages that make this proposal extremely attractive.

  • With property values possibly decreasing due to the economic crisis, this would stabilize the City tax base.

  • The 2% annual increase would allow for limited budget growth and cost of living increases.
  • Homeowners would be more inclined to make home improvements, thus stimulating the local housing market and getting contractors back to work.
  • Laid-off workers would see some small relief on their home mortgages as a result.

Finally in addition to asking you for this property tax relief I am scheduled to ask the Sedgwick County Commissioners for the same relief at the County level on Wed Feb. 18.

Other news coverage can be found here:
Wichita Council Wants To Discuss Sales Tax Verses Property Tax (KWCH Television)
Wichita to discuss new sales tax to reduce property tax (Wichita Eagle)


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