Daily Archives: Dec. 1, 2009

Sumner County casino on hold for now; developers plan changes

TOPEKA –  The state’s casino review board voted this morning to send the contract for Sumner County’s casino back to the Kansas Lottery for further negotiation.

The vote came after partners of Chisholm Creek Casino Resort asked the board to take the action.

The partners said competition from a potential tribal casino in Park City they were unaware of until recently has forced them to think of new strategies, including possibly speeding up the timeline for the casino and expanding the size of the gaming floor.

Their plans to add a hotel to the first phase of the development also need to be addressed in a new contract, they said.

A lottery official said its goal would be to have a new contract negotiated by the first of the new year. The review board would have 60 days to vote on the contract after it receives it from the lottery.

The board was scheduled to vote on the contract tomorrow.

Wichita vice mayor: Groups that get city money should provide spending records

WICHITA — Vice Mayor Jim Skelton this morning called on the Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau and other agencies that receive city money to follow the Kansas Open Records Act following a complaint by a local blogger who didn’t get records he sought from the bureau.

Bob Weeks, who has criticized the bureau and the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation for not providing spending records, asked council members this morning to make the bureau provide records as a condition of the city’s $2.1 million annual funding for the bureau’s activities.

Council members unanimously approved the bureau’s funding without making the records a condition.

But Skelton said it’s important that if the city gives public money that agencies disclose how that money is spent.

“If we are open, it will avoid these types of questions in the future,” he said.

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Wichita tweaks laws for drinking on public property

Drinking at approved outdoor events will have to end at midnight on Friday and Saturday nights and at 11 p.m. on other days under a change to the city’s outdoor event and nightclub laws.

Wichita City Council members unanimously approved the move this morning along with several other tweaks.

One of those closed a little-known loophole that allowed outdoor drinking at the Old Town Farm and Art Market, Old Town Cinema Plaza and the lawn of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. City officials say that loophole hadn’t led to any problems with people partying at those three places. Now the only outdoor drinking in public places will be at events that pass through a fairly rigorous application process and get city approval.

The council’s vote also allows pool halls and places with pool tournaments to stay open past 2 a.m., when bars are otherwise required to close down. But even though the pool matches can go on into the early morning, no alcohol can be served after 2 a.m.

Wichita City Council puts off tax breaks for accounting firm

Wichita City Council members this morning put off a move indefinitely to give an accounting outsourcing firm a $22,000-a-year property tax abatement for its nearly completed expansion.

The industrial revenue bonds that Michelle Becker Inc., the real-estate holding company for Profit Builders Inc., sought typically are given to companies that either couldn’t expand without the tax breaks or would otherwise move out of the city.

Since Profit Builders Inc.’s west-side expansion is already about 90 percent complete and the company is obviously poised to stay here, council members said they couldn’t justify giving economic incentives.

The city doesn’t have a policy that addresses giving tax breaks to businesses that have already begun construction on expansions. Now council members are asking City Manager Robert Layton and Director of Urban Development Allen Bell to craft a rule that addresses that.

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Feds footing the bill to replace Wichita Transit’s clunkers

Wichita Transit is taking bids on new hybrid cars to replace its 14-year-old Taurus staff cars, like this one

Wichita Transit is taking bids on new hybrid cars to replace its 14-year-old Taurus staff cars, like this one

It took an act of Congress for Wichita Transit to get some new staff cars.

Using federal economic stimulus money, the city department is seeking bids for three new hybrid vehicles to replace its 14-year-old fleet of hail-damaged Ford Taurus sedans.

Transit officials also are replacing a utility pickup using stimulus money. The one they have now is 15 years old.

“What we’ve done in the past is purchase old city vehicles,” said Transit Director Michael Vinson.

The cars are primarily used by supervisors responding to problems in the field and for employees to drive from the Transit headquarters at Waterman and Rock Island to City Hall, at Central and Main.

Records show the replacement vehicles are expected to cost about $105,000, to be paid from the city’s share of federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

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