Not so fast: Old Town TIF district stays open

Former interim city manager Ed Flentje proposed spending another $1.6 million on the Old Town tax increment finance district and then end it two years earlier than expected. Now city council member Sharon Fearey says the district should remain open for a little longer — long enough to fund $750,000 worth of resurfaced public parking lots and security projects. Her council counterparts seem to agree and plan to include those projects in their 2009-2010 budget Tuesday. (Here’s the list of projects… old-town-tif-2008-2012.)

The Old Town TIF was created in 1991, and a total of $4.3 million in bonds was issued to pay for the Old Town parking garage and sidewalk and street improvements, according to the city budget. Now it produces more money than it needs, and Old Town Association members and the city keep coming up with new projects to spend the money on rather than putting the property tax dollars, which have increased 423 percent since 1993, back on the general tax rolls to fund citywide projects.

The TIF district was to die naturally in 2013. But Flentje told the council that closing the TIF in 2011 would make about $250,000 a year for the city, Sedgwick County and the Wichita School District, all of which split property tax dollars. Under Fearey’s proposal, it would close whenever the projects are funded, which she and finance officials estimate would be in 2012.