WICHITA — City Council members will think a bit longer about whether businesses that charge an extra 2 percent fee should be required to post signs to notify consumers about the extra cost.
After hearing concerns from developer Christian Ablah, who said posting signs on doors or cash registers "will kill CIDs" and limit economic development and activity, council members voted 7-0 this morning to defer action until their Dec. 7 meeting.
Community improvement districts, or CIDs, were approved by the state Legislature earlier this year. The goal was to help developers finance new projects during the economic slump.
The policy lets businesses charge up to 2 percent more on sales tax. The extra fee can be charged only in districts where all property owners agree on it.
The money flows to the state, back to the city and then to the developer, who can use it to pay for construction, land acquisition, equipment and operating costs.
A majority of council members have said they favor requiring businesses to notify customers of the extra charge, either by putting a sign on the front door, noting the charge on sales receipts or listing businesses on a central website.
Ablah said he and other developers think signs notifying consumers would hurt business.
"We're not against consumer protection or notification. It's just that the tenants will never agree" to improvement districts where signs are required, he said.
"This is too important of a tool to kill today," he said. "Council should know there are major, big, new tenants looking at Wichita, and... I think Wichita will lose deals if you pass signage (requirements) today."
The city's office of urban development recommended no signs, but rather a website where consumers could see a list of businesses that asses the additional charge.
Council member Janet Miller agreed to postpone the vote, but said she supports some form of signs to notify customers of the extra charge.
"To use the argument that this is all about the community, but the only way it works for the community is to hide it from the community is illogical," she said. "I completely disagree that signage will kill these developments."