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Sedgwick County takes no action on Derby TIF, allowing it to move forward

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, June 12, 2013, at 12:04 p.m.

By not saying yes or no, Sedgwick County commissioners still pushed through a tax-increment financing district in Derby on Wednesday.

The district is estimated to generate just more than $2.2 million in revenue over time for improvements and would be at the southeast corner of K-15 and East Patriot Avenue. Menard’s has bought land in the proposed TIF district to build a home improvement store.

Money from the district will be used to improve an intersection that the Kansas Department of Transportation says has a higher-than-average rate of accidents. It also will help pay for drainage improvements and landscaping.

The Derby City Council last month approved the TIF district, which would divert future taxes to help pay for improvements. Because such financing affects the county, it has a say.

Commissioners had three options: to approve the district, to veto it or to take no action, which amounts to approval.

County commissioners voted 3-2 to take no action.

Board members Karl Peterjohn and Richard Ranzau voted against the commission’s motion, saying the TIF district would have an adverse effect on the county.

Ranzau said the county could use the diverted tax money for its own capital improvement projects.

Peterjohn questioned whether the area met the legal definition of blight, which is required for tax-increment financing. He said he had toured the area.

“I have a hard time finding the blight the statute calls out,” Peterjohn said.

Derby City Manager Kathy Sexton said an engineer determined that more than half of the area met the legal definition of blight.

She also said there was no other funding source to improve Nelson Drive.

Two members of the public spoke against the project. John Todd, a Wichita resident who often speaks at city and county meetings, said the project should be in Derby’s capital improvement plan, not a burden on the county.

“There’s little benefit for the county, but there’s big benefit for the city,” Wichita resident Myron Ackerman said of the TIF district.

Norton said the county should be concerned about the safety of the Derby intersection.

Unruh agreed.

“I think Derby’s an important community in Sedgwick County,” he said.

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or dgruver@wichitaeagle.com.

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