WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The ongoing fight between the Wichita City Council and the Sedgwick County Commission shows no signs of letting up. Not only is funding an issue that both sides don’t see eye-to-eye on. Now, comments about who is supporting which candidate is adding fuel to the fire.
Commissioner Richard Ranzau is calling out commission candidate David Dennis, labeling him a puppet of Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell.
One city council member KSN talked with says the friction between both sides goes deep, especially over the shift of funds from the county to the city in some areas.
Commissioner Ranzau says there have always been differences between city and county leaders. But, as for a so-called rift, he says the blame falls on Mayor Longwell.
“There’s been differences between the city and county for a long time, but this narrative didn’t start until Wichita got a new Mayor,” said Ranzau.
Part of the disagreement from both sides comes from the shifting of who pays for what between the city and the county.
Ranzau brought up funding for jail fees and the Old Cowtown Museum, two projects he says both the city and county funded together until about six years ago.
“It’s also very telling that some of the things they are bringing up happened before I or the other commissioners were here,” Ranzau said.
But, City Council Member Bryan Frye has another perspective.
“It’s a process, it’s a continual shift and they continue to push stuff towards us that was the county’s responsibility,” said Frye.
Fry says it’s that shift that makes it harder for both sides to cooperate.
“Just in the last year, we’ve had about $5 million in costs that have been shifted to city of Wichita responsibility, things that we didn’t anticipate having to pick up.”
Frye says $3 million of that came from annual jail fees, with close to $2 million for the day reporting center and Cowtown all becoming the fiscal responsibility of the city.
But, Ranzau says there are plenty of city-county partnerships that are uneven.
“We have a partnership in Exploration Place, they own the land, we pay for the building, but we also subsidize it over $2 million dollars a year, which was never planned for and they don’t help with that,” Ranzau said.
KSN asked both Frye and Ranzau what is the solution to the friction from both sides. Ranzau says everyone needs to put aside their own personal agendas and work on issues they agree on. Frye wants to focus on growing the community as a whole and not treating the city and county as separate entities.