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While Wichita asks for new taxes, it continues to spend and borrow

The City of Wichita says it doesn’t have enough revenue for things like street maintenance and transit, but continues to borrow for spending on new projects.

The City of Wichita is asking voters to approve a sales tax of one cent per dollar. Portions of the revenue will be used to bolster things like infrastructure, where the city says it has fallen short of its own spending and development goals.

The city says it does not have enough revenue to pay for these items. Despite this apparent shortfall, the city continues to spend money on new projects, money which the government has to borrow from other sources. These new debts are, in fact, quite high.

As an example, last month the city issued $368 million in bonded debt. Around half of this debt was to refinance short-term bonds. The other half was new debt.

WaterWalk Place in downtown Wichita, September 30, 2014

WaterWalk Place in downtown Wichita, September 30, 2014

Here’s something listed as what the city paid for with part of the bond proceeds: “Douglas and Hillside Redevelopment, $3,685,000.00.” The new intersection is nice, but the previous incarnation was not bad enough to merit rebuilding it.

Out of the funds the sales tax is projected to raise over five years, $27.8 million is allocated for street maintenance and repairs. That’s $5.6 million per year to be spent in addition to what the city has already planned to spend.

So to reconstruct just one intersection, the city spent two-thirds of the dedicated portion of the sales tax for streets.

Here’s what voters need to keep in mind. The city claims it doesn’t have enough revenue to pay for the upkeep of streets — the streets that taxpayers have already paid for. But the city borrows money for new projects like this and many others. Then, the city tells us it doesn’t have enough money to maintain what we already have, and voters need to pass a sales tax.

As an aside, how do you feel about the progress of the WaterWalk development in downtown? There’s not much going on there. Here’s how much the city borrowed to spend on that project, according to the bond documents: $7,145,000.00. Over $7 million in new debt for a project that appears to have stagnated.

Featured image from Shutterstock

Bob Weeks

Bob Weeks is a blogger for liberty and economic freedom in Kansas: http://wichitaliberty.org. Find him onTwitter: @bob_weeks

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Categories: Budget and Finance, Waste, Fraud and Abuse
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