Wichita council votes to end Old Town tax district

HOTEL AT OLDTOWNA special tax district in Old Town will be closed, and $1 million in unspent tax money will be sent to the Wichita school district, city and county, the Wichita City Council decided today.

The council voted unanimously  to end the tax increment finance district in Old Town. Lavonta Williams was absent.

Tax increment finance districts channel property tax dollars generated by new improvements to flow into accounts that pay for special projects — such as streets, parks, lighting and public art. The money has also been used to acquire land for developers and demolish blighted buildings.

All of the redevelopment projects financed by property tax money in a special district in Old Town have been paid off. The  balance in the TIF district account will be split among three taxing groups, with the school district receiving about half and the county and city each getting a quarter.

The Old Town TIF district — bounded by Douglas, Second Street, Santa Fe and Washing-ton — generated a lot of new property tax that paid off a long list of projects years ago. It was one of the city’s first TIF districts, established in 1991.

Officials had talked about ending the Old Town TIF district since 2008. But Old Town business owners and City Council members had kept the district alive to fund extra projects.