Wichita sales tax proposal to be on November ballot

Published On: Aug 06 2014 10:12:01 AM CDT   Updated On: Aug 05 2014 12:16:30 PM CDT
Wichita City Council 2014

Update: A 1-cent sales tax proposal will be up for vote this November.  The Wichita City Council made the decision Tuesday morning.

Supporters say the money would be used for a long-term water solution, city transit programs and street repairs. 

It could also fund a special project to attract new businesses to Wichita.

Voters will have their say on the proposal November 4.


Details about a proposed plan to raise Wichita's sales tax are more clear after public feedback.

City council members talked for three hours and went through at least 70 pages of research from public feedback sessions.

"On the jobs side of it, I think we need to have more detail," councilman James Clendenin said.

In it, they learned most people surveyed support funding a future water source with a 1-percent sales tax hike. But, they want specifics about how the money would also create more bus routes around town and improve streets.

"I don't think I heard anything today that would make me think we should radically change the package,"councilwoman Janet Miller said.

Plus, a fund to attract new jobs is now less than the original $90 million request. So is the bill to improve the city's aquifer, which is cheaper than buying water from El Dorado lake.

"I would like to have some discussion on what $50 million might do for, say the park department, and add some quality of life things in there and still not collect more than what we said we would do, 1-percent for 5 years," councilman Jeff Longwell said.

Council members will decide Aug. 5 if the sales tax question will end up on the November ballot. If it does, the City will have less than three months to sell the idea to voters.

"You have to have specifics, that's what people are attracted to," said Cindy Claycomb, Wichita State marketing professor.

Claycomb said clarity is key to convincing voters to support a sales tax initiative. The City's challenge is educating the public on those specifics before the general election.

"People hear tax, and sometimes they just say, 'no I'm not interested,'" Claycomb added. "So it is going to be that challenge I think."

All will depend on what the city council decides next month.