Group forms to support Wichita sales tax initiative

WICHITA, Kansas – A coalition of community and business leaders are getting together to support the city’s one-cent sales tax on the November ballot.

“This is about a community that is at a crossroads and at a place where it’s ready to make a decision,” Jon Rolph, one of the co-founders of Yes Wichita, said.

That crossroads is in November, when Wichita voters will vote on whether to add a one-cent sales tax.

“Talk to your neighbor, talk to your co-worker and invite them,” Rolph said. “This is an invitation to having a voice for the direction you want to see this city go.”

Yes Wichita supports the sales tax that would raise an estimated $400 million over a 5-year period to fund four different things.

$250 million would go to the city’s efforts to establish a long-term water supply.

$40 million would pay for upgrades to Wichita transit, like expanded routes and night service.

$30 million would pay to fix 111 miles of neighborhood streets.

The remaining $80 million would go to a jobs fund, administered by an appointed committee to provide incentives to businesses that create and retain jobs in Wichita.

It’s that jobs fund that is the sticking point for opponents.

“We don’t want government picking winners and losers,” Jennifer Baysinger, of the Coalition for a Better Wichita, said in a recent interview. “We don’t want government taking money out of the pockets of families and giving it to select businesses.”

The Coalition for a Better Wichita is the main group that has come out against the initiative, saying they are concerned about what’s going to be done with the money.

“There are people within the group that oppose different pieces of the tax for different reasons,” Baysinger said. “Overall, I keep hearing the same sentiment. People don’t know what the plan is. It has not clearly been laid out.

Supporters say they are ready to show voters what that plan is, and why it deserves a yes vote.

“This erosion needs to stop and we need to bend that curve into the future on a much higher note,” Michael Monteferrante, CEO of Envision and one of Yes Wichita’s co-founders, said.

To learn more from both sides of the issue, you can visit Yes Wichita and the Coalition for a Better Wichita.

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