Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau

Business improvement district on tap in Wichita

Business improvement district on tap in Wichita

The Douglas Design District seeks to transform from a voluntary business organization to a tax-funded branch of government. Tomorrow the Wichita City Council will consider forming a business improvement district (BID) in east-central Wichita. Previously, city documents offered some explanation regarding the district: [1. City of Wichita. Agenda for August 21, 2018, Item IV-1. Available at http://www.wichita.gov/Council/Agendas/08-21-2018%20City%20Council%20Agenda%20Packet.pdf.] First, there already exists a voluntary organization: "The Douglas Design District (DDD) is a voluntary organization of over 300 local businesses located near Douglas Avenue between Washington Avenue and Oliver Avenue. In 2017, the DDD established a five-year strategic plan to become a…
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More Wichita planning on tap

More Wichita planning on tap

We should be wary of government planning in general. But when those who have been managing and planning the foundering Wichita-area economy want to step up their management of resources, we risk compounding our problems. As announced by the City of Wichita, "In response to recent recommendations from Project Wichita and the Century II Citizens Advisory Committee, community organizations and their leadership are stepping forward to take the next step to create a comprehensive master plan and vision that connects projects and both banks of the Arkansas River." The city says these organizations will be involved: Downtown Wichita Greater Wichita…
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In Wichita, respecting the people’s right to know

In Wichita, respecting the people’s right to know

The City of Wichita says it values open and transparent government. But the city's record in providing information and records to citizens is poor, and there hasn't been much improvement. The City of Wichita is proud to be an open and transparent governmental agency, its officials say. Former Mayor Carl Brewer often spoke in favor of government transparency. [1. For example, in his State of the City address for 2011, Brewer listed as an important goal for the city this: "And we must provide transparency in all that we do." See https://drive.google.com/open?id=1xgx96BEXALDEgLBRcQdz2Kg0_W5x3e2J.] When the city received an award for transparency…
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Business improvement district proposed in Wichita

Business improvement district proposed in Wichita

The Douglas Design District proposes to transform from a voluntary business organization to a tax-funded branch of government (but doesn't say so). Update: On August 21, the council approved the formation of the planning committee. This week the Wichita City Council will consider taking the first step in forming a business improvement district (BID) in east-central Wichita. Some explanation from the agenda packet for the meeting: [1. City of Wichita. Agenda for August 21, 2018, Item IV-1. Available at http://www.wichita.gov/Council/Agendas/08-21-2018%20City%20Council%20Agenda%20Packet.pdf.] First, there already exists a voluntary organization: "The Douglas Design District (DDD) is a voluntary organization of over 300 local…
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Wichita tourism fee budget

Wichita tourism fee budget

The Wichita City Council will consider a budget for the city's tourism fee paid by hotel guests. If you stay at a hotel in Wichita, you'll pay sales tax of 7.5 percent, hotel tax (transient guest tax) of 6.00 percent, and since 2015, a tourism fee of 2.75 percent. The tourism fee arises from the city's creating of a Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID), with boundaries matching those of the city. [1. City of Wichita, Ordinance No. 49-677. Available at http://www.wichita.gov/CityClerk/OrdanicesDocuments/49-677%20TBID%20Ordinance%20-%20version%204.pdf.] Funds collected from this fee go to Visit Wichita, the city's visitor and convention bureau. (Of note, the TBID…
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Liquor tax and the NCAA basketball tournament in Wichita

Liquor tax and the NCAA basketball tournament in Wichita

Liquor enforcement tax collections provide insight into the economic impact of hosting NCAA basketball tournament games in Wichita. In Kansas, a tax is collected at liquor stores, grocery stores, and convenience stores on the sale of alcoholic beverages. The same tax is also collected on sales to clubs, drinking establishments, and caterers by distributors. [1. "Liquor Enforcement or Sales Tax. The second level of taxation is the enforcement or sales tax, which is imposed on the gross receipts from the sale of liquor or CMB to consumers by retail liquor dealers and grocery and convenience stores; and to clubs, drinking…
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Effect of NCAA basketball tournament on Wichita hotel tax revenues

Effect of NCAA basketball tournament on Wichita hotel tax revenues

Hotel tax collections provide an indication of the economic impact of hosting a major basketball tournament. The Kansas Department of Revenue has released transient guest tax collections for March 2018. This is a tax added to hotel bills in addition to sales tax. The rate in Kansas is 6.00 percent, although some localities add additional tax to that. For the city of Wichita, here are the collections: March 2017: $538,539 March 2018: $543,844 Increase: $5,305 or 0.99 percent With the hotel tax at 6.00 percent, that increase implies additional sales of $88,417 for the same month of the prior year.…
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Briefs

Reminds me of the Wichita flag Wichita Eagle Opinion Line, December 5, 2017: "So Wichita wants to put its flag on license plates. I hope not. Every time I see it, it reminds me of how much it looks like the KKK emblem." I've noticed this too. Have you? Here is the center of the Wichita flag along with the blood cross used by the Ku Klux Klan. Wichita hotel resurgence? At the meeting of the Wichita City Council today, there was self-congratulation on the success of the city and its convention and tourism bureau in generating business for Wichita…
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During Sunshine Week, here are a few things Wichita could do

During Sunshine Week, here are a few things Wichita could do

The City of Wichita says it values open and transparent government, but the city lags far behind in providing information and records to citizens. The City of Wichita is proud to be an open and transparent governmental agency, its officials say. Former Mayor Carl Brewer often spoke in favor of government transparency. For example, in his State of the City address for 2011, he listed as an important goal for the city this: "And we must provide transparency in all that we do." When the city received an award for transparency in 2013, a city news release quoted Wichita City…
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In Wichita, we’ll not know how this tax money is spent

In Wichita, we’ll not know how this tax money is spent

Despite claims to the contrary, the attitude of the City of Wichita towards citizens' right to know is poor, and its attitude will likely be reaffirmed this week. This week the Wichita City Council will consider approval of a contract with Visit Wichita, the city's convention and visitor bureau. Once again, citizens will be left out of knowing how the city's tax money is spent. In the past, I've asked that Visit Wichita (formerly Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau) make its spending records available. It's the same type of information that the city will send you about its own…
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In Wichita, open records relief may be on the way

In Wichita, open records relief may be on the way

A new law in Kansas may provide opportunities for better enforcement of the Kansas Open Records Act. This year the Kansas Legislature passed HB 2256, captioned as "An act concerning public bodies or agencies; relating to the state of Kansas and local units of government; providing certain powers to the attorney general for investigation of violations of the open records act and the open meetings act; attorney general’s open government fund ..." The good part of this law is that it provides additional enforcement options when citizens feel that government agencies are not complying with the Kansas Open Records Law.…
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Wichita tourism plan should include spending disclosure

Wichita tourism plan should include spending disclosure

As part of a plan for spending a dedicated tax revenue stream, the Wichita city council should include disclosure of spending. It would fulfill a campaign promise. When the City of Wichita collects money through taxation, citizens have the right to know how it is spent. For the city, it is possible to view every check that is written, although the city is not able to supply this information in machine-readable form. But it is available. But when the city establishes non-profit corporations that are funded totally, or nearly totally, with taxes, different rules apply, says the city: Spending does…
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This week, Wichita has a chance to increase government transparency

This week, Wichita has a chance to increase government transparency

The Wichita City Council can decide to disclose how taxpayer money is spent, or let it remain being spent in secret. The City of Wichita has three surrogate quasi-governmental agencies that are almost totally taxpayer-funded, specifically Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau, Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, and Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition. Each agency contends it is not a "public agency" as defined in Kansas law, and therefore does not have to fulfill records requests. These agencies spend considerable sums of tax money. This week the city will consider funding Go Wichita with a budget of $2,356,851 for 2015. That…
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Not all Wichita candidates support your right to know

As candidates spring up for Wichita mayor and city council, voters need to know that many, such as current district 2 council member Pete Meitzner and mayoral candidate Jeff Longwell, have been openly hostile towards citizens' right to know how taxpayer money is spent. Following is a news story by Craig Andres of KSN News. View video below, or click here. For more on this issue, see Open government in Kansas. Transparency groups want to know where Wichita tax money is going to promote Wichita WICHITA, Kansas -- Public or private? GoWichita, Wichita Downtown Development Corporation and the Greater Wichita…
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In election coverage, The Wichita Eagle has fallen short

In election coverage, The Wichita Eagle has fallen short

Citizens want to trust their hometown newspaper as a reliable source of information. The Wichita Eagle has not only fallen short of this goal, it seems to have abandoned it. The Wichita Eagle last week published a fact-check article titled "Fact check: 'No' campaign ad on sales tax misleading." As of today, the day before the election, I've not seen any similar article examining ads from the "Yes Wichita" group that campaigns for the sales tax. Also, there has been little or no material that examined the city's claims and informational material in a critical manner. Someone told me that…
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WichitaLiberty.TV: Arrival of Uber a pivotal moment for Wichita

WichitaLiberty.TV: Arrival of Uber a pivotal moment for Wichita

In this excerpt from WichitaLiberty.TV: Now that Uber has started service in Wichita, the city faces a decision. Will Wichita move into the future by embracing Uber, or remain stuck in the past? View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Originally broadcast on September 14, 2014. For more in this topic, see Arrival of Uber a pivotal moment for Wichita.
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To Wichita, a promise to wisely invest if sales tax passes

To Wichita, a promise to wisely invest if sales tax passes

Claims of a reformed economic development process if Wichita voters approve a sales tax must be evaluated in light of past practice and the sameness of the people in charge. If these leaders are truly interested in reforming Wichita's economic development machinery and processes, they could have started years ago using the generous incentives we already have. At a conference produced by Kansas Policy Institute on Friday September 19, a panel presented the "nuts and bolts" of the jobs portion of the proposed Wichita sales tax that voters will see on their November ballots. I asked a question: Listening to…
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Claims of future transparency of Wichita tax money spending

Claims of future transparency of Wichita tax money spending

Claims by boosters of a proposed Wichita sales tax that the city will be transparent in how money is spent must be examined in light of the city's attitude towards citizens' right to know. When a city council member apologizes to bureaucrats because they have to defend why their agencies won't disclose how taxpayer money is spent, we have a problem. When the mayor and most other council members agree, the problem is compounded. Carl Brewer won't be mayor past April, but the city council member that apologized to bureaucrats -- Pete Meitzner (district 2, east Wichita) -- may continue…
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For proposed Wichita sales tax, claims of transparency

For proposed Wichita sales tax, claims of transparency

Claims of valuing and promoting government transparency by the City of Wichita are contradicted by its taxpayer-funded surrogates. As boosters of a proposed Wichita sales tax promise accountability and transparency in how money will be spent, especially the portion designated for jobs and economic development, voters may want to consider the city's past and present attitude towards government transparency and open records. The city has three surrogate quasi-governmental agencies that are almost totally taxpayer-funded, specifically Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau, Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, and Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition. Each agency contends it is not a "public agency"…
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Arrival of Uber a pivotal moment for Wichita

Arrival of Uber a pivotal moment for Wichita

Now that Uber has started service in Wichita, the city faces a decision. Will Wichita move into the future by embracing Uber, or remain stuck in the past? Uber is a ridesharing service, although that word doesn't describe it adequately. Here's how it works. People apply to be Uber drivers. Uber does background checks to its satisfaction. Drivers must have a relatively late-model car. If Uber accepts drivers, they receive a smartphone with an app, and they're in business. Customers who want to use Uber must have a smartphone. Then, customers create an account and make payment arrangements such as…
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