County commissioners not too keen on City Hall debate

Sedgwick County commissioners on Tuesday hinted that they’re not going to be too keen about listening to public comment Wednesday calling for another public hearing on a tax increment financing (TIF) district near Intrust Bank Arena.

Commissioners Tom Winters, Tim Norton, Dave Unruh and Kelly Parks all agreed that that beef needs to be brought to the city, not the county.

Four people are on the county commission’s Wednesday meeting agenda to talk about the TIF district — a 16-block area targeted for street, sidewalk and landscaping improvements — before the board votes on it. Some of the speakers have said they want to talk to the county about how the city at the last minute added $10 million for parking into the plan to redevelop the area around the arena. They argue that the public hearing Dec. 2 after which the City Council voted to approve the district was not an open and transparent meeting because the public didn’t know about the parking until then.

County board chairman Winters said he and his colleagues are charged with what’s in front of them — the plan itself — and not whether the city failed to give adequate public notice of the parking. If people have a problem with how the city conducted the public hearing, they should talk to the city, Winters and other commissioners said.

It appears likely that commissioners will support the district with a 3-2 vote: Winters, Unruh and Norton for it and Parks and board member Gwen Welshimer against it.

Commissioners will meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday in their chambers on the third floor of the courthouse, 525 N. Main.

Stay signed in to Kansas.com on Wednesday for news about the TIF district and whether it passes muster on the other side of Main and Central.