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Posts published in “Wichita city government”

Wichita Smoking Ban: Authoritarian, Elitist?

Here’s some good commentary I received from a citizen. Wichita’s smoking “ban” will take effect before too long.  Smoke ’em while you can, I guess.…

Government Art in Wichita

Do we really want government art in Wichita? David Boaz, in his recent book The Politics of Freedom: Taking on The Left, The Right and…

Wichita and the Old Town Warren Theater Loan

Remarks to be delivered to the Wichita City Council, July 1, 2008. Mr. Mayor and members of the Council, we are potentially beginning a journey…

Wichita Tax Swap Has Dangers

The City of Wichita is thinking about raising its sales tax and using the proceeds to lower property taxes (“City starts talks on 1-cent hike…

Wichita city manager’s warning is too late

Wichita Interim City Manager Ed Flentje issued this warning to the council: "There are in this community much larger businesses with much larger employment who may see this opening as something that will open a door for those businesses to come and say, 'You've done it before, you can do it for us.'"

Dr. Flentje, I hate to break the news to you, but the door is already wide open.

Tax Abatements in Wichita

A few months ago I spoke before this council asking that you not grant a tax abatement. At that time I was told that granting a property tax abatement doesn't have any impact on City of Wichita spending.

I found this quite remarkable, that new homes and buildings can be built but not consume any additional resources that the city and other local governments supply. If this is truly the case, why should a new development of any type at any location have to pay any property tax at all?

Wichita City Manager Search: Look Before You Leap

In the business world, there’s an old adage that says "look before you leap." So, upon hearing that the Wichita city council was going to hire the only city manager candidate interviewed, I decided to do some looking. What I have seen thus far, has not been all that pretty to me. One of the reasons for the "rush," we were told, is Pat Salerno is a finalist for the same position in Durham, North Carolina. What we were not told was that he was a finalist in Durham in 2001, and was not selected. Also, this candidate was passed over in recent months by two cities in Florida, Naples and Fort Meyers. Both took a pass after initially interviewing Pat Salerno for a city manager position.

Haze surrounds Wichita smoking ban

Smoking ban supporters claim that they have the right to go to bowling alleys, bars, and other such places without having to breath secondhand smoke. That's false. No one has the right to be on someone else's property on their own terms. The property owner controls those terms. If the bar owner lets the band play too loud (or maybe not loud enough), or the restaurant is too dimly lit, or the floor of the steakhouse covered with discarded peanut shells, do we want to regulate these things too?

How to pay for special tax treatment in Wichita

Mr. Mayor, members of the city council, I ask that you not vote to approve this request for a tax abatement, and that you cease this practice altogether. Alternatively, I ask that you adopt a practice that will help realize the costs of these actions.

It is no doubt difficult to compete with other states when they offer huge gifts to companies in order to lure them to their state. That's a problem that needs to be addressed at a different level of government.

Remarks to Wichita City Council, April 1, 2008

By asking for the TIF financing, developers are sending us a signal that without the special tax favor, their project would not be economically feasible. They evidently have judged that it would not be profitable. They must feel that they will not be able to sell or rent at prices that will cover their costs of developing this project.

This means that proceeding with the project is investing capital somewhere other than its most-valued use. We know that because developers build other things in Wichita without receiving a subsidy, and they are able to earn a profit.

It’s not the same as pee in the swimming pool

In a column in the February 27, 2008 Wichita Eagle ("Smoking ban issue not one to negotiate"), columnist Mark McCormick quotes Charlie Claycomb, co-chair of Tobacco Free Wichita, as equating a smoking section in a restaurant with "a urinating section in a swimming pool."

This is a ridiculous comparison. A person can't tell upon entering a swimming pool if someone has urinated in it. But people can easily tell upon entering a restaurant or bar if people are smoking.

The harmful effects of Wichita’s special tax favors

In the past few weeks a handful of companies in Wichita have asked to be exempted from paying property taxes on investments they have made. This week Wichita may decide to grant special tax treatment to a large development in downtown Wichita.

Is it wise for the City of Wichita to grant these special tax favors?

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