The following is an excerpt from the July 27 issue of The Wichita Eagle. John Wong, professor and interim director of the Hugo Wall School of Urban and Public Affairs at Wichita State University, provides expertise for the story.
Wichita's tax districts aren't breaking even
Tax increment financing helped create Old Town, brought a grocery store to a business-deprived northeast neighborhood and put a Gander Mountain store on the east bank of the Arkansas River.
But city and county tax records show that nearly $159 million in public money has been spent on Wichita's tax increment financing districts, to get roughly $150 million worth of new development.
That new development equals about a $37 million increase in the property tax base.
"You would hope the (public) investment would generate a multiple of the investment, not the other way around," said Wichita State University economist John Wong, an expert on municipal finance.