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Wichita City Council signs off on corrected Southfork plan

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, March 5, 2013, at 10:24 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, March 5, 2013, at 6:32 p.m.

A revision to correct a mistake in drawing up boundaries for a south Wichita tax increment financing district was approved Tuesday by the City Council.

The council voted 6-0 for new boundaries for the Southfork TIF, a 72-acre retail, office and hospitality project near I-135 and 47th Street South.

The Southfork TIF district will not have to go back to the Sedgwick County Commission for another review, city and county officials said.

County Clerk Kelly Arnold brought the mistake to the city’s attention last month. The county found the city-crafted boundaries included two slices of rights-of-way that extended into the Haysville school district and part of a box culvert under the Kansas Turnpike that was outside the Wichita city limits.

TIF districts dedicate new taxes created by improvements to help pay for those improvements. All taxing entities included in the district must grant approval for it.

Haysville’s school district had not been contacted by the city requesting its approval. That won’t be necessary now because the new boundaries no longer include property within the school district.

The right-of-way for the box culvert also has been removed from the TIF district, said Allen Bell, who heads the city’s economic development efforts.

The new boundaries are all within the city limits and the Wichita school district, which has been notified about the TIF district, he added.

The areas that dipped into the school district were a section of a drainage canal and a short distance on the west side of Broadway, Bell said.

He has acknowledged the boundary mistakes were his.

The rights-of-way excluded “were somewhat superfluous,” Bell said. “They were a fringe benefit. Including them had no material benefit to the district.”

The City Council had originally approved the Southfork TIF district in April. Southfork barely cleared the county commission in May on its second attempt before the county, receiving a 3-2 approval amid concern about whether the project actually needed public funding.

But Bell told the council that Southfork won’t have to go before the county commission again.

State law allows cities to remove land from a TIF district by passing a city ordinance without going through another approval process by the other taxing entities, he said.

County Counselor Richard Euson said he agrees.

Developer Jay Maxwell’s Southfork project would capture $9.9 million in financing from the increased valuation of the property. No TIF revenues would be paid to the developers until the project began to generate increased taxes.

Besides restaurants and retail, the project will also include an emergency medical service.

“We don’t have that there now,” said Council Member James Clendenin, whose District 3 includes the area being developed. “The service aspects for the community down there will be huge.”

In a separate 6-0 vote, the council set April 16 for the public hearing on the details of Southfork’s project plan.

Mayor Carl Brewer was absent because of a death in the family.

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or rplumlee@wichitaeagle.

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