Wichita could see sales tax increase this November

WICHITA, Kansas – The Wichita City Council faces a tough, yet important decision. Adding a one-cent sales tax the question could go before voters in November.

Council members said it’s a way to fund four major improvement projects.

In search of a way to fund improvement projects for the city’s water system, transit system, residential streets and job infrastructure, the City of Wichita is proposing a 1-cent sales tax increase.

The hope is to generate close to $400 million over the next five years to pay for these improvements.

“I feel like everyone sees the need for the three infrastructures, they see the jobs part as very important, but this is a very crucial time for our city right now, our economy is lagging behind,” said City Councilman, Jeff Blubaugh.

Blubaugh believes the council is spot-on when it comes to the three infrastructures they’ve identified as needing improvements.

However, he’s still on the fence when it comes to the job incentives and infrastructure portion, one that is expected to net $80 million from the proposed increase.

“There’s still some questions, for myself and some others, about the jobs piece because we do feel like that is the revenue producing piece of this it’s probably the most important piece of this,” said Councilman James Clendenin earlier this week.

Clendenin feels the projects incorporated in the proposed sales tax increase are a positive, but says the ultimate decision on whether it passes lies in the hands of the public.

“These are projects that are going to affect the city for decades, the projects we’re talking about, so it’s important to know that the community is going to have to say yes, this is what we want,” said Clendenin.

Blubaugh adds the 1-cent sales tax would include a sunset provision that would allow the increase to expire in 5 years.

The city council has until August 5th to decide whether the proposed increase will be included on the November ballot.

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