Haysville mayor quits economic development group and says he’ll cut off city funding of it

WICHITA — The mayor of Haysville has quit Haysville Forward Inc., the city’s economic development group, and says he’ll cut off any future city funding for it.

Ken Hampton made the announcement March 1 after he lost a vote to continue as the group’s president, which he’s been for the last several years.

“I was shocked, so I can’t remember the exact quote word for word, but it was basically he had the ability to shut down the committee, and as of now he considered HFI disbanded,” says Tim Massey, an HFI member and director of the Haysville Chamber of Commerce.

“I might have said it will probably end up being dismantled,” Hampton says. “What I told people … is we’re not going to give further support. I looked at the bylaws to see what we need to do as far as the city cutting ties.”

He says he’s still studying the bylaws.

Massey says HFI members weren’t sure what to think.

“After they got up off the floor? There was one person that asked if he had the authority to do that or did the City Council know he was doing that. He said that yes, he had the authority to do that.”

The city has given various amounts to the group over the last few years – from $5,000 to $10,000 on average. In the last few weeks, Hampton says the city gave HFI $23,000 from its transient guest tax.

He says he believes because of that money, whoever is mayor should be president of the group.

“I wasn’t going to say, ‘Hey, if you don’t vote for me, we’re not going to do this,’” he says of letting the group know how he felt before the vote.

“It wasn’t an anger thing, it was a principle thing in my opinion,” Hampton says. “If you don’t stand up for your principles, then why do anything?”

Massey says while he didn’t expect this outcome, he knew there was trouble.

“I’m like the guy after the tornado,” he says. “Yes, I saw it coming. I was sitting there in my trailer.”

Massey says not much economic development has happened in the last half year or so.

“The group just feels like we haven’t done anything,” he says.

Hampton says that’s why he recently gave more money to HFI.

“Because I was supporting and, like I say, doing my part on Haysville Forward,” he says.

“It’s unfortunate. I wish things would have went a little differently.”

Hampton says the issue is some people within the group have an issue with him.

“There are probably a few people in there who wouldn’t walk across the street and spit on me if I were on fire,” he says. “It doesn’t matter if you do everything in the world right, they still don’t like you.”

Neither Hampton nor Massey is sure what HFI’s future is.

“Really, to get anything done, you’ve got to have money behind a group,” Hampton says.

“Do we let it just disband and say, ‘The heck with it,’” Massey says. “I do not believe that’s going to happen.”

He says no one knew what to do after Hampton made his announcement.

“Basically, the gist of it, we sit around for a second, and somebody said, ‘The meeting must be over,’ and we left.”