City of Wichita officials on Monday provided an update on its efforts to engage and educate the community on the proposed one-cent sales tax, which will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot.
Following are remarks Mayor Carl Brewer provided at the morning news briefing at City Hall:
Early this week, I returned home to many messages after nearly three weeks in Ghana and South Africa. Many had to do with questions about the proposed sales tax and the plan to fund four community priorities.
I want to provide you with an update on the City’s community engagement efforts regarding the sales tax and I want you to know the City does have a Plan – a plan based on your feedback. The Plan features four community priorities identified after the ACT ICT community engagement process.
I want to remind you that the engagement process included thousands of surveys, more than 100 community meetings, online feedback and other efforts to reach out to residents. Any and every citizen had the opportunity to voice their thoughts.
City government, by state statute, cannot campaign for a “Yes” or “No” vote on the ballot question. But we do have a public service obligation to help educate residents.
When people go to vote on Nov. 4, we want them to make an informed decision, based on accurate, comprehensive information.
You can make up your own mind about the proposed sales tax by learning more about what it would fund at the City’s web site.
It’s simple: Visit wichita.gov/salestax or visit the City’s Facebook and Twitter sites to learn about the Plan. You can also find printed copies of the Plan at City Hall, City facilities and events across the city where they are being requested and distributed.
To summarize the Plan, the 1-cent sales tax - which will expire in 5 years or sooner if funding needs are met - breaks down this way:
- 63 cents of every dollar collected will go toward establishing a future water supply;
- 20 cents of every dollar will help create and retain jobs; and
- 10 cents of every dollar will help improve and expand the transit bus system;
- 7 cents of every dollar will help repair neighborhood streets.
Also, as part of the City’s ongoing community engagement efforts, I want to tell you about other efforts tied to the proposed sales tax:
- First, there will be an upcoming public forum to learn more details about the design of the ASR project.
- Second, the City Council will soon start taking nominations to fill seats on the sales tax citizen oversight committee. The committee will be comprised of six members from the City Council Districts and eight members from the City at-large. We will take applications until the end of November. This committee will have open meetings. It will post all documents online. And it will present quarterly financial reports to the City Council. We will have transparency and accountability of public dollars.
- Third, I and the Council have directed the City Manager to fund sales tax educational mailers that will be mailed to every household in the city. The mailer, which will go out soon, provides easy-to-read details about the City’s Plan. The educational mailer will also include information about possible options and outcomes if the sales tax is not approved.
Thank you again and please stay engaged on these community priorities.