City of Wichita

401(K) 2012 / Flickr Creative Commons

The City of Wichita waives millions of dollars in tax revenue each year in the name of economic development. It’s called tax abatement, and it allows private companies to forgo certain tax burdens for a set amount of years. The plan is to help businesses expand, improve and hire more staff. Tax abatements are a common practice in cities across the country. KMUW’s Sean Sandefur explores how these incentives work, and whether they’re effective.

City of Wichita

City officials, along with Parks and Recreation, are seeking public feedback regarding the Aquatics Master Plan.

The plan, announced last month, calls for the replacement of four of the city’s 10 swimming pools--McAdams, Orchard, Boston and Linwood--with water playgrounds. 

In addition, Edgemoor Swimming Pool will be renovated and will open again 2020. The remaining five pools will be updated over the next seven years. The Parks and Recreation Department plans to spend $18 million on the changes.

Youtube

Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell gave his first State of the City address Thursday.

Unlike past addresses, this one was released in the form of an 11-minute video shot at various locations around Wichita, including Wichita State University’s under-construction Innovation Campus and downtown’s Pop-Up Park.

In the video, Longwell touts what he considers the city’s successes in 2015 and outlines goals for the coming year. Highlights from last year include:

-The opening of the new terminal and parking garage at the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport;

Gilber Stuart, Library of Congress

Before you head out tomorrow to try to see the new Gordon Parks exhibit at the Wichita Art Museum, remember: Many city and county facilities will be closed Monday in observance of President’s Day.

The following City of Wichita facilities and operations will be closed Monday:

Pictoscribe, flickr Creative Commons

The City of Wichita begins it 2016 water rebate program on Monday. Water customers may receive some cash back for purchases that are easy on the water supply.

High-efficiency washing machines, dishwashers and toilets that use less water will qualify for the rebate and can earn their owner a $100 bonus from the city. In addition to those items, prospective recipients can report smart controllers for irrigation and sensors that detect rain and turn off automatic irrigation for the same amount.

Those who have bought a rain barrel can also apply for a rebate up to $75.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Wichita’s new police chief Gordon Ramsay started this week, and he says he initially plans on spending much of his time listening to the community.

Ramsay says some of his top priorities as chief of the Wichita Police Department will be recruiting new officers, developing relationships in the community and gathering analytics to map out areas of concern.

Ty Nigh, flickr Creative Commons

The city of Wichita approved a Capital Improvement Program Tuesday afternoon that accounts for $1.9 billion in potential spending.

The Capital Improvement Program is meant to prioritize city projects for the next decade. While the funding isn’t guaranteed, it’s used as a wish list of sorts for improving Wichita. It includes millions of dollars for parks, water and sewer improvements, bike paths and public safety. But the plan’s main focus is improving streets and highways.

Sedgwick County

There are rumblings pushing toward the idea of consolidating Sedgwick County and City of Wichita governments. Some people are unhappy with a divided Sedgwick County Commission on some budgetary matters for the coming fiscal year. Also, there is concern about how well the city-county partnership is working in funding some entities.

The City of Wichita still isn’t sure what to do with a large funding shortfall for the Wichita-Sedgwick County Planning Department.

The department is equally funded by both the city and county, but a proposed budget by county officials last week would cut about $155,000 from the department. That has left city officials scrambling to find a solution as they put together their own budget.

vansassa / flickr

In my nearly 47 years in Wichita, I have observed that city leaders have focused on that “one more thing” they think would attract and keep people in Wichita, especially young people.

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