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Citizen activists launch protest petition in response to Wichita City Council vote on hotel development

A press release from Americans for Prosperity, Kansas.

For Immediate Release — Sept. 14, 2011
Contact: Susan Estes, 316-681-4415

WICHITA, KAN. — Despite hearing from numerous local residents speaking in opposition to the project yesterday, the Wichita City Council approved a number of public incentives for a hotel development in downtown Wichita. In response, the Wichita chapter of the grassroots group Americans for Prosperity plans to work to overturn part of the incentive package.

“It’s apparent that a majority of Wichita City Council members don’t understand simple economics and are determined to continue hand-picking winners and losers in the marketplace,” said AFP-Kansas state director Derrick Sontag. “They hide under the guise of ‘job creation’ when in fact all they are doing is taking taxpayer money and using it against real job creators in the private sector — the ones who don’t rely on government handouts.”

“But the real losers in this project are the people of Wichita, the majority of whom we believe do not approve of subsidizing a boutique hotel in downtown Wichita. The signatures gathered in our protest petition effort will represent citizens who for the most part are not able to attend city council meetings, but are voicing their disapproval of this type of taxpayer funded expenditure.”

AFP’s Wichita group plans to launch an effort to overturn the council’s approval of a charter ordinance allowing the developer to use a special tax for its own purposes. The group will collect signatures on a protest petition, and will have 60 days after the charter ordinance’s final publication to gather the needed signatures to put a stop to the guest tax incentive.

“Yesterday’s vote in the city council to approve public incentives for a private development was disappointing,” said AFP-Kansas Field Director and Wichita resident Susan Estes. “Thanks to this vote, Wichita taxpayers will be paying for a development that should be funded privately.”

“And aside from our philosophical opposition to such a project, the proposal to refund 75 percent of the hotel’s guest tax simply turns the idea of taxation on its head. Taxation is a public function the government uses to pay for public services such as public safety, schools and infrastructure. However, in this case we are allowing private interests to use a public function for their own purposes.”

Additionally, funneling 75 percent of a hotel’s guest tax back to it for its exclusive use is not compatible with current city policy, Estes said. According to a description of the Tourism and Convention Fund in the city budget, the goal of the guest tax is to “support tourism and convention, infrastructure, and promotion of the City.” Its outlined priorities are to be “debt service for tourism and convention facilities, operational deficit subsidies, and care and maintenance of Century II.”

Upon successful completion of the petition, the city council could either vote to rescind the charter ordinance on the guest tax usage or hold an election so Wichita voters can decide on the matter.

Residents will be able to learn more about what AFP is doing to keep taxpayer dollars out of private developer’s coffers and to join our efforts by visiting dtwichita.com.

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is a nationwide organization of citizen-leaders committed to advancing every individual’s right to economic freedom and opportunity. AFP believes reducing the size and intrusiveness of government is the best way to promote individual productivity and prosperity for all Americans. AFP educates and engages citizens to support restraining state and federal government growth and returning government to its constitutional limits. AFP is more than 1.7 million activists strong, with activists in all 50 states. AFP has 31 state chapters and affiliates. More than 85,000 Americans in all 50 states have made a financial contribution to AFP or AFP Foundation. For more information, visit www.americansforprosperity.org

Americans for Prosperity does not support or oppose candidates for public office.

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7 Comments

  1. Anonymous September 14, 2011

    Before you sign the petition, be sure to understand that the people that are carrying the petition will say anything to gain your signature. In other words, don’t believe everything that you hear.

  2. Bill Williamson September 14, 2011

    the goal of the guest tax is to “support tourism and convention, infrastructure, and promotion of the City.” Its outlined priorities are to be “debt service for tourism and convention facilities, operational deficit subsidies, and care and maintenance of Century II.”

    It would appear that using the guest tax to support the construction of a hotel and thereby increasing the ability of the city to attract conventions IS meeting the goals of the city.

  3. Anonymous September 15, 2011

    Kudos to the efforts of the AFP. Finally, more and more citizens and organizations are beginning to wake-up and take action against the greed for financial gain and power of some elected officials and the powerful financial interests who feast on taxpayer dollars. Recently, in Dade County, Florida the people recalled the Mayor and a four term Commissioner for spending the taxpayer dollars on their campaign benefactors projects.

  4. ictator September 15, 2011

    It will be great to finally have an opportunity, assuming the petition drive is successful, to vote on apparently unlimited taxpayer subsidies for the downtown Wichita “Solyndra’s.”

    We’ve already had enough with the boondoggle buildings from the Minnesota guy’s schemes.

    Enough is enough.

  5. Toldyaso September 15, 2011

    Please tell us how many signatures are needed, and the rules of the signers.

  6. Anonymous September 15, 2011

    Mayor Brewer was elected in 2007 promising to create thousands of new jobs and he is just delivering on his promises of creating as many $8 dollars an hr part time jobs as possible. Of course, in 2007, unemployment was 3.7% and he has worked hard to increase that rate to 8.9%

  7. George September 20, 2011

    It seems to me that David Burk knows how to work the system really well and NOT to the average tax payers advantage. Tax credits from the Federal and State governments have become the funnel by which these developers are enriching themselves,
    their construction buddies and ultimately the politicians coffers. This is a no-bid environment, buddies club, that proposes to offer economic development but with no guarantees. No reputable bank would ever loan anyone money on these terms.

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