Wichita city government

Metropolitan employment and labor force

Metropolitan employment and labor force

A visualization of employment, labor force, and unemployment rate for metropolitan areas, now with data through February 2020. How does the Wichita metropolitan area compare with others regarding employment, labor force, and unemployment rate? The Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor, has data that provides the answer. I've gathered data from BLS and present it in an interactive visualization with tables, charts, and a map. Click here to learn more and use the visualization. Below is an example from the visualization.
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Wichita jobs and employment, February 2020

Wichita jobs and employment, February 2020

For the Wichita metropolitan area in February 2020, the labor force is up, the number of unemployed persons is up, the unemployment rate is up, and the number of people working is up when compared to the same month one year ago. Seasonal data shows increases in labor force and jobs from January. Data released yesterday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor, shows a mostly improving employment situation for the Wichita Metropolitan Statistical Area. Click charts and tables for larger versions. Total nonfarm employment rose from 302,300 last February to 307,000 this…
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Freestanding emergency room in Wichita closes

Freestanding emergency room in Wichita closes

The conversion of a medical facility should receive city scrutiny due to tax breaks granted based on its original use. The Wichita Eagle reports that a freestanding emergency room in northeast Wichita has closed after two years. It will be converted to a cardiology office under the same ownership. As I reported in Free standing emergency department about to open in Wichita, the facility received property tax abatements worth an estimated $61,882 per year in the first year. The abatement was scheduled to last for five years, with a likely extension for an additional five years. These abatements were obtained…
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Wichita city council to consider COVID-19 response measures

Wichita city council to consider COVID-19 response measures

The City of Wichita may spend to create a COVID-19 expense tracking project and to bypass normal purchasing processes. At Tuesday's meeting of the Wichita City Council, members will consider measures to help the city respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the agenda packet for the meeting, the city advises that the pandemic will financially impact the city, and that the city needs to take steps to respond. According to the city document, the city may experience extra costs and revenue shortfalls. There is the potential for the city to be compensated for these if the city can "aggregate and…
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Wichita jobs and employment, January 2020

Wichita jobs and employment, January 2020

For the Wichita metropolitan area in January 2020, the labor force is up, the number of unemployed persons is down, the unemployment rate is down, and the number of people working is up when compared to the same month one year ago. Seasonal data shows increases in labor force and jobs from December. Data released yesterday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor, shows an improving employment situation for the Wichita Metropolitan Statistical Area. Click charts and tables for larger versions. Total nonfarm employment rose from 299,400 last January to 303,100 this January…
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At Naftzger Park: ‘Sunflower Exclusive’

At Naftzger Park: ‘Sunflower Exclusive’

Dr. Chinyere Grace Okafor, poet, playwright and fiction writer, "is a Professor of English and Women's Studies, Director of the Center for Women’s Studies and Chair of the Department of Women’s Studies and Religion, Wichita State University." She has contributed a poem that is featured in the redesigned Naftzger Park in downtown Wichita. Chase Billingham visited the park and transcribed the poem. He reports: "This is the poem that has been carved into stone pavers in the new Naftzger Park. The poem appears twice in the park. It appears in its entirety in one large slab near Douglas Avenue. And…
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Missing from Wichita city documents: Sales tax

Missing from Wichita city documents: Sales tax

It would be simple for the City of Wichita to include additional relevant information regarding economic development incentive decisions. When the Wichita City Council makes decisions regarding economic development incentives, the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University prepares an analysis for the city. The purpose of the analysis is to determine benefit-cost ratios for overlapping governmental jurisdictions, purporting to show that these jurisdictions will receive more in benefits than they pay in costs. An example of the analysis for a large project is here. The city does not make this analysis document available to the…
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Wichita water plant resource center

Wichita water plant resource center

A resource of information about the new Wichita Water Treatment Plant in northwest Wichita. Send suggestions for additions to [email protected] This document has three sections: Websites and online sources Documents News and opinion. The last update was Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Websites and online Wichita Water Information Hub A web page maintained by the City of Wichita. "Welcome to the dedicated information source for the Northwest Water Treatment Facility. Here we will provide a reliable source of project updates including frequently asked questions and share progress." Link to page is wichita.gov/pwu/nwwf/Pages/default.aspx. Wichita Water Works A website by Wichita Water partners,…
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Wichita taxing district to expand

Wichita taxing district to expand

The City of Wichita plans to expand a special tax district. Next week the Wichita City Council will consider expanding an existing CID, or Community Improvement District, in the Delano neighborhood near downtown Wichita. A map provided by the city is nearby. Community Improvement Districts are a mechanism whereby extra sales tax is collected within a district. For this CID, the city asks to collect an extra two cents per dollar, which is the maximum allowed in Kansas. CIDs are distinguished from STAR bonds, in which incremental sales tax revenue in a district is captured and handled differently from the…
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Wichita property tax rate: Up

Wichita property tax rate: Up

The City of Wichita property tax mill levy rose for 2019. In 1994 the City of Wichita mill levy rate -- the rate at which real and personal property is taxed -- was 31.290. In 2019 it was 32.721, based on the Sedgwick County Clerk. That's an increase of 1.431 mills, or 4.57 percent, since 1994. (These are for taxes levied by the City of Wichita only, and do not include any overlapping jurisdictions.) The rate for 2019 was up by 0.17 percent from 2018 and follows three years of virtually no change. The Wichita City Council does not set…
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Wichita should post fulfilled records requests

Wichita should post fulfilled records requests

When the City of Wichita fulfills records requests, it should make those records available to everyone. When governmental agencies like the City of Wichita fulfill records requests, they could also publish the records on their websites. When records are supplied electronically to requestors, this is an additional simple (and low cost) step that would leverage the city’s effort and increase its value. Some federal agencies do this. For example at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website, there is a page titled FOIA Library. An example entry on this page is titled "Executive Orders on Travel Records." The explanation for…
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Wichita jobs and employment, December 2019

Wichita jobs and employment, December 2019

For the Wichita metropolitan area in December 2019, the labor force is up, the number of unemployed persons is down, the unemployment rate is down, and the number of people working is up when compared to the same month one year ago. Seasonal data shows small increases in labor force and jobs from November. Data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor, shows a slowly improving employment situation for the Wichita Metropolitan Statistical Area. (Of note, this data was gathered before the announcements of layoffs at Spirit Aerosystems in Wichita.) Click…
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Naftzger Park event management agreement ambiguous

Naftzger Park event management agreement ambiguous

The profit-sharing agreement for Naftzger Park event management contains ambiguity that could lead to disputes. Today the Wichita City Council approved an agreement with Wave Old Town LLC for event management in Naftzger Park in downtown Wichita. The agreement was approved unanimously. While there was controversy over the awarding of the contract (Wichita Eagle reporting is here), others have noticed that the contract is imprecise in a way that could lead to problems. The city and Wave will share profits and losses based on a schedule in the management agreement contained in the agenda packet for today's meeting, Item V-2.…
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Wichita legal notices an easy start on the path to transparency

Wichita legal notices an easy start on the path to transparency

Kansas law requires publication of certain notices in newspapers, but cities like Wichita could also make them available in other ways that are easier to use. As Wichita's new mayor takes office, there are a few things the city could do to increase the availability and distribution of government information. An easy project to accomplish would be placing legal notices on the city's web page. Kansas law requires that many legal notices must be printed in a newspaper. That law needs to be changed. Newspapers resist this reform, as it might mean a loss of revenue for them. (That's right.…
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Financial state of the cities

Financial state of the cities

Wichitans carry a "Taxpayer Burden" of $1,200 per taxpayer, which is not as bad as many cities. Truth in Accounting is an organization that works to improve the reliability and transparency of governmental financial information. [1. "The nonpartisan mission of TIA is to educate and empower citizens with understandable, reliable, and transparent government financial information. TIA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization composed of business, community, and academic leaders interested in improving government financial reporting." See https://www.truthinaccounting.org/about/page/faqs-2.] Annually, it produces a report titled Financial State of the Cities that examines the fiscal health of cities. The report does not take…
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Century II resource center

Century II resource center

Updated and refreshed: A resource of information about the Century II Performing Arts and Convention Center in Wichita. Click here: wichitaliberty.org/century-ii-resource-center-wichita Painting of Century II by Bill Goffrier. For more of his works, visit Goffrier Studio on the web or Bill Goffrier Studio on Facebook.
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Renderings, at least believable

Renderings, at least believable

How believable are architectural renderings of a Ferris wheel and swimming pool in Wichita? Over the past year, Wichitans have been presented with architectural renderings of proposed projects. These life-like artistic representations are intended to generate support from clients, be they elected officials, bureaucrats, or voters. But there's been a problem. Across the country, some renderings are so vivid, but at the same time totally false, that a term was coined: vaportecture. We understand that most of these renderings are conceptual. They aren't meant to have the binding intent of a contract. But when a feature is so vivid and…
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Wichita aerospace manufacturing concentration

Wichita aerospace manufacturing concentration

Wichita leaders want to diversify the area economy. Has there been progress? In the wake of layoffs at Textron Aviation (875) [1. Textron, Inc. Form 8-K, December 5, 2019. Available at https://www.sec.gov/ix?doc=/Archives/edgar/data/217346/000110465919070378/tm1924597-1_8k.htm.] and Spirit Aerosystems (2,796), [2. https://www.kansasworks.com/ada/mn_warn_dsp.cfm?id=2021] Wichita's leaders shift their attention to the need to diversify the Wichita metropolitan area economy. This has been a recognized need for a long time. [3. See, for example: Roe, John. Where To From Here? Surviving The Coming Bad Times Will Require A Direction, Wichita Eagle, February 7, 1993.] One way to measure the concentration of an industry in a location is…
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Wichita to consider tax forgiveness outside policy parameters

Wichita to consider tax forgiveness outside policy parameters

The Wichita city council will consider a tax giveaway for an economic development project that does not meet its stated policy. Tomorrow the Wichita City Council will consider issuing up to $33 million in Industrial Revenue Bonds in relation to a project at the Wichita State University Innovation Campus. Despite its name, in the IRB program the city does not purchase bonds or lend money. The city does not guarantee the payment of the bond interest or principle. Instead, the IRB program allows the city to grant tax forgiveness, both property tax and sales tax. [3. Weeks, Bob. Industrial revenue…
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