Wichita, give back the Hyatt proceeds

Instead of spending the proceeds of the Hyatt hotel sale, the city should honor those who paid for the hotel — the city’s taxpayers.

The City of Wichita has sold the Hyatt Regency Hotel for $20 million. Now, what should the city do with these funds? In a workshop this week, the city manager and council recognized that these funds should not be used for operating purposes. This is important. The Hyatt Hotel was paid for with long-term debt, which the city says has been retired. The proceeds from this sale should be used in a similar way: For long-term capital investment, not day-to-day operating expenses. But the council heard two proposals that are decidedly more like operating expenses rather than capital investment.

One proposal, presented by Public Works Director Alan King, is to spend $10 million on street repair over two years. Part of that expense is to purchase a new truck, which is a capital, not operating, expense. But King later revealed that the truck could be purchased out of the existing capital budget.

Street maintenance, however, is an operating expense.

A second proposal, from the Wichita Transit System, would use about $4 million to sustain and improve current bus service. It was presented to the council as a “bridge to a long term solution.”

This, too, is an operating expense.

As these proposals were presented in a workshop, no decision was made.

These two proposed uses of the $20 million Hyatt sales proceeds are contrary to the goal of not using the funds for operating purposes. If the city decides to use the sales proceeds in this way, a capital investment will have been sold in order to pay for day-to-day expenses.

Instead of spending on these two projects, the city should simply return the money to those who paid for the Hyatt in the first place. Those people are, of course, the taxpayers of Wichita. It would be difficult to give back the funds to individual taxpayers in proportion to the amount they supplied. So what the city should do is retire $20 million of the city’s long-term debt.

If not that, then the city should use the Hyatt proceeds to pay for another long-lived asset, perhaps the new downtown library. Either of these alternatives respects the principles of sound financial practice, and also respects the taxpayers.

3 thoughts on “Wichita, give back the Hyatt proceeds”

  1. Weeks’ suggestion to return proceeds of the Hyatt Hotel sale back to the taxpayers – REEKS of sarcasm & hypocrisy. The alternatives of using the money to retire the debt or pay back taxpayers represent “sound financial practice” – says Weeks. Really? That opinion sounds like a song that Weeks & governor Brownback & Kansas’ legislators ought to compose to lyrics like ‘the Kansas sun will ever shine upon our financial experiments.’ When more Kansas schools close & college student debt rises then what “sound financial practice” will Weeks & the Weeks minded advocate?

  2. This subject was brought up at the DAB II meeting in September. Councilman was curious to know how we should go about spending the $20 million “repayment.” The unbalanced, liberal DAB was in favor of spending the proceeds, but on what? Just spend it and on something big was Becky’s solution!

    Unfortunately, you won’t find this in the meeting minutes-it’s better to leave the tough questions and conversation out of meeting minutes so the public doesn’t see the conversation.

    Let’s show some respect to our taxpayers and pay off this debt.

  3. Let’s assume you divide the money equally between the six districts. Launch a campaign to have taxpayers in each district submit ideas. The old: “It’s your District, You decide.” program. In District 3, I would propose we spend the money to reopen wells that were closed due to the taxpayer funded Gilbert-Mosley clean up. The well water could be used as an alternative to using costly treated water for non potable use, and possibly raise property values in the district.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.