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Posts published in “Wichita city government”

Economic fallacy supports arts in Wichita

Recently two editorials appeared in The Wichita Eagle promoting government spending on the arts because it does wonderful things for the local economy. The writers are Rhonda Holman and Joan Cole, who is chairwoman of the Arts Council.

I read the study that these local writers relied on. The single greatest defect in this study is that it selectively ignores the secondary effects of government spending on the arts.

A downtown Wichita urban renewal success story … not

This history lesson from Karl Peterjohn of the Kansas Taxpayers Network tells the story of what might have been for downtown Wichita, and shows how close Wichita came to losing a company very important to our local economy, even if they're not located downtown.

Bill Davitt on blight

Bill Davitt makes some excellent points about the dangers of giving politicians power to control blight through eminent domain. He also explains why it is best to vote for Carlos Mayans for mayor of Wichita.

A roadblock to private investment in Wichita

So for the moment, a developer's plan for a downtown hotel and conference center is blocked by a law, the Kansas preservation statute. What is the problem with the proposed building? "[the problem] is that it incorporates too many materials and features inconsistent with the surrounding buildings. That includes glass, marble, stainless steel, redwood and balconies."

Wichita City Council and Cessna Aircraft Company Industrial Revenue Bonds

I received this letter written to Wichita Mayor Carlos Mayans and members of the Wichita City Council. The author makes excellent points about the harmful effects of special tax treatment for special interests. A better goal would be to work to reduce taxes for all companies and all people. This way, each company and individual can decide how to make best use of their own funds, instead of the Wichita City Council deciding for us. That is, in effect, what tax breaks like this do. It is the government deciding that resources should be allocated in a way different than how the market has decided. Our experience tells us that governments aren’t as smart as markets, and that governments almost always allocate resources inefficiently.

The motivations of politicians

I do not know the answer to these questions, and given our collective experience with politicians, I probably wouldn't believe Mr. Knight if he answered them. Such is the credibility of the motivations of politicians.

Proposed Wichita housing code change

The city’s housing code has problems. Here is an overview of the problems. Some suggested improvements follow.

To George Kolb, regarding urban renewal in Wichita

Today, city government plays a large role in this city’s life. The most recent municipal budget is in the neighborhood of $1/2 billion. That massive sum does not seem to be large enough for many of the city leaders since there is now an effort underway to recreate one of the major mistakes of the 20th century: Urban Renewal.

Resurrecting urban renewal in Wichita?

On August 22, 2006, the City of Wichita hosted a Visioneering Committee "Public Forum on Community Revitalization" featuring Mr. Richard Baron, Chairman and CEO of McCormack Baron Salazar (MBS) of St. Louis, Missouri in the Sudermann Commons Room at the Wichita State University Hughes Metropolitan Complex. An August 14, 2006 letter from City Manager George Kolb explains, "This forum is part of the City's commitment to and participation in a prisoner reentry initiative to help transform not only the lives of returning ex-offenders, but also to transform the communities/neighborhoods into which they will return."

Tax increment financing in Wichita benefits few

How does a TIF district work? The Wichita Eagle reported: "A TIF district doesn't cost local governments any existing tax money. It takes property taxes paid on new construction that would ordinarily go into government coffers and redirects it to the bond holders who are financing the project."

Consider carefully costs of a new Wichita airport terminal

As Wichita considers building a new terminal at its airport, we should pause to consider the effect an expensive new terminal would have on the cost of traveling to and from Wichita, and by extension, the economic health and vitality of our town.

Wow, City Biggest Investor in Entertainment

I cannot recall another city government that has spent so much money on entertainment. The city wanted to make downtown a destination but they but a bland science muesum on the best location. They have bailed out way to many private ventures all in the name of quality of life.

What’s Good for Gander Not Good For Goose

However, Gander Mountain and its developer, Oppidan Investment Co., argue granting special favors to any one retailer leads down a slippery slope. "If you give [a tax break] to a Wal-Mart, should you give it to Target? If you give it to Home Depot, then should you give it to Lowe's? And if you give it to Bass Pro, shouldn't you give it to Cabela's and Gander Mountain? How about we just don't give it to anybody?" Oppidan CEO Mike Ayers said to the Toledo Blade for a March 22 article.

Arts funding in Wichita produces controversy

As local government tries to decide which arts and cultural institutions are to receive government funds, controversy arises. A June 8, 2006 Wichita Eagle article titled "Arts panel biases alleged" tells how some funding applicants are upset that some of the members of the funding committee have ties to organizations that also applied for funds. In an editorial titled "Let Arts Funding Work" published in the June 10, 2006 Wichita Eagle, Rhonda Holman writes "The process may not be perfect, but it's a precious opportunity for public dollars to be invested in the arts and attractions in a merit-based way that's fair, open and accountable."

As expected, price controls harm Wichita travelers

The effect of the AirTran subsidy is to reduce the price of airfare to and from Wichita. That is its stated goal. If the subsidy did not work to reduce prices, we would be wasting our money. The fact is that the subsidy does work to reduce airfares to and from Wichita. It also does what any economist could predict: it reduces the supply of air transport to and from Wichita. I think that's why economics is called the "dismal science." There really is no free lunch.

AirTran subsidy is harmful

From the beginning, we in the Wichita area have been told each year that the AirTran subsidy was intended as a temporary measure, that soon AirTran would be able to stand on its own, and there will be no need to continue the subsidy. Mayor Mayans said as much last year, and so did City Manager Kolb this year.

But State Senator Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, on a recent television program, may have made a revealing slip when she referred to the AirTran subsidy as a "pilot program." Now that the subsidy appears to be a permanent requirement, funded locally and perhaps statewide, we should ask ourselves if this subsidy is in our best interests.

Local economic development in Wichita

There is an interesting academic paper titled "The Failures of Economic Development Incentives," published in Journal of the American Planning Association, and which can be read here: www.planning.org/japa/pdf/04winterecondev.pdf. A few quotes from the study:

Given the weak effects of incentives on the location choices of businesses at the interstate level, state governments and their local governments in the aggregate probably lose far more revenue, by cutting taxes to firms that would have located in that state anyway than they gain from the few firms induced to change location.

How to decide arts funding

In an editorial in The Wichita Eagle on August 9, 2005, Randy Schofield wrote, explaining why government should support culture: "Because cultural amenities make Wichita a more desirable place to live, work and visit, and thus help realize Wichita's quality of life and economic development goals." We might examine some of the ideas and reasoning behind this statement.

The misplaced morality of public officials

In Wichita some public officials, particularly mayor Carlos Mayans, are seeking to eliminate adult businesses and stores selling pornography. This focus on private morality lies in sharp contrast with government's large-scale acts of public immorality.

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