Wichita politicians, newspaper editorial writers, and sometimes just plain folks are fond of bashing those they call the “naysayers,” sometimes known as CAVE people. An…
Posts tagged as “Tax abatements”
A Wichita Eagle news story (Help with historic houses, July 4, 2008) describes two apparently wealthy College Hill homeowners who plan to benefit from Kansas…
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…
This letter is from my friend Darrell Leffew. Not everyone seems to understand the folly of throwing good money after bad. “Taxpayers are already on…
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
Wow! Someone in city hall realizes that a reduction in taxes is good for business, and is reducing taxes in response to that revelation.
In Wichita, tax increment financing (TIF) benefits few at the expense of many.
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.
Kansas has high taxes. Even worse, the high taxes are high property taxes that stifle capital formation and hold down wages. Two new studies rank Kansas at the bottom of this region when it comes to soaring property taxes. That should not be too surprising since Kansas and Nebraska are the two states that provide their citizens will almost no opportunity to vote on whether or not property taxes should be raised.
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."
Spirit Aerosystems CEO Jeff Turner defended the massive spending hike that was used as the primary justification for the county's 8.8 percent property tax hike in his editorial August 9, 2006. Turner's support for this increased government spending ignored some important ramifications behind this economically destructive vote.
Readers of The Voice For Liberty in Wichita are well aware that I believe that when the government provides subsidies to businesses -- either in the form of cash payments or preferential tax treatment -- we create a corrosive business environment. Government picks winners and losers for political reasons, rather than letting the market decide which companies are doing a good job. Government also spends money inefficiently. Instead of letting the market decide where to best allocate capital, government chooses who receives capital taken from the people through taxation according to the whims of politicians spending other peoples' money.
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.
Recently I wrote about the Mississippi Beef Plant (The Mississippi Beef Plant Has a Lesson For Us) and its spectacular costs to the taxpayers of Mississippi. I wondered if there were less spectacular failures that we didn't know about because they weren't reported in the news media. Failures in this context could mean a situation where the taxpayers have to make good on a bond or debt that the benefiting company didn't pay, or it could mean a situation where the company doesn't default, but fails to deliver on the promised economic development activity.
If you listen to local Wichita news media, our local politicians, and various community advocates, the desirability of downtown development over other development is accepted as a given. But what people actually do with their own money is different.
In 2003, local Wichita news media devoted extensive news coverage to two officials in the City of Wichita's finance department. They were accused of improperly spending between $52,000 and $73,800 on travel. While I don't condone this waste and I'm glad that our local news media uncovered it, the amount involved is relatively small. Furthermore, the people who wasted this money are no longer in a position to repeat.
The real scandal, however, is the ongoing lack of care exercised when spending our money. Time and time again we read in the newspaper how the mayor or city council members are surprised by facts and circumstances arising after a decision has been made.