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Citizen Activists Launch Protest Petition in Response to Wichita City Council Vote on Hotel Development

September 14, 2011

WICHITA, KAN. – Despite hearing from numerous local residents speaking in opposition to the project yesterday, the Wichita City Council approved a number of public incentives for a hotel development in downtown Wichita. In response, the Wichita chapter of the grassroots group Americans for Prosperity plans to work to overturn part of the incentive package.

“It’s apparent that a majority of Wichita City Council members don’t understand simple economics and are determined to continue hand-picking winners and losers in the marketplace,” said AFP-Kansas state director Derrick Sontag. “They hide under the guise of ‘job creation’ when in fact all they are doing is taking taxpayer money and using it against real job creators in the private sector – the ones who don’t rely on government handouts.

“But the real losers in this project are the people of Wichita, the majority of whom we believe do not approve of subsidizing a boutique hotel in downtown Wichita. The signatures gathered in our protest petition effort will represent citizens who for the most part are not able to attend city council meetings, but are voicing their disapproval of this type of taxpayer funded expenditure.”

AFP’s Wichita group plans to launch an effort to overturn the council’s approval of a charter ordinance allowing the developer to use a special tax for its own purposes. The group will collect signatures on a protest petition, and will have 60 days after the charter ordinance’s final publication to gather the needed signatures to put a stop to the guest tax incentive.

“Yesterday’s vote in the city council to approve public incentives for a private development was disappointing,” said AFP-Kansas Field Director and Wichita resident Susan Estes. “Thanks to this vote, Wichita taxpayers will be paying for a development that should be funded privately.

“And aside from our philosophical opposition to such a project, the proposal to refund 75 percent of the hotel’s guest tax simply turns the idea of taxation on its head. Taxation is a public function the government uses to pay for public services such as public safety, schools and infrastructure. However, in this case we are allowing private interests to use a public function for their own purposes.”

Additionally, funneling 75 percent of a hotel’s guest tax back to it for its exclusive use is not compatible with current city policy, Estes said. According to a description of the Tourism and Convention Fund in the city budget, the goal of the guest tax is to “support tourism and convention, infrastructure, and promotion of the City.” Its outlined priorities are to be “debt service for tourism and convention facilities, operational deficit subsidies, and care and maintenance of Century II.”

Upon successful completion of the petition, the city council could either vote to rescind the charter ordinance on the guest tax usage or hold an election so Wichita voters can decide on the matter.

Residents will be able to learn more about what AFP is doing to keep taxpayer dollars out of private developer’s coffers and to join our efforts by visiting http://dtwichita.com.

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is a nationwide organization of citizen-leaders committed to advancing every individual’s right to economic freedom and opportunity. AFP believes reducing the size and intrusiveness of government is the best way to promote individual productivity and prosperity for all Americans. AFP educates and engages citizens to support restraining state and federal government growth and returning government to its constitutional limits. AFP is more than 1.7 million activists strong, with activists in all 50 states. AFP has 31 state chapters and affiliates. More than 85,000 Americans in all 50 states have made a financial contribution to AFP or AFP Foundation. For more information, visit www.americansforprosperity.org
Americans for Prosperity does not support or oppose candidates for public office.


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