Wichita City Council members are urging the state to consider west Wichita’s 67213 ZIP code as an area to receive financial incentives through Gov. Sam Brownback’s urban opportunity zone proposal.
The proposal offers incentives to people to live in certain ZIP codes, including:
▪ Personal income tax exemption for first-time homebuyers or people with limited incomes.
▪ $3,000 per year in student loan forgiveness for college graduates.
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▪ Property tax rebates and sales tax exemption on materials for developers or homebuyers who are renovating or constructing new buildings.
Under the current plan, 67210 – an area in southeast Wichita by McConnell Air Force Base – is the only zone in Wichita proposed for a pilot program. But council members suggested Tuesday that the effort focus instead on 67213, and 67214 south of Wichita State University, if the city can get an additional ZIP code.
Mayor Jeff Longwell pointed out that the area around McConnell can barely be considered “urban.”
The current proposal includes three ZIP codes in Kansas City, one in Topeka and one in Wichita, even though Wichita is the largest city in Kansas. City lobbyist Dale Goter told the council that he was told Wichita had only one ZIP code included because this is a pilot program, but the city will request more.
Council members seemed most interested in 67213 because United Way of the Plains is dedicating $1 million to improve graduation rates and family living conditions there, according to director Pat Hanrahan. The area is just southwest of downtown and bounded roughly by Main on the east, Harry on the south, West on the west and Kellogg and Douglas on the north.
According to data collected by the United Way, 67213 has an average household income of $29,989 and about 45 percent of housing is rentals.
In 67210, near McConnell, the average household income is at $35,181 with the area has about 54 percent rentals.
The 67214 ZIP code near Wichita State has the lowest average household income of the three areas at $22,588 and has about 49 percent rentals.
The urban program is based on a similar rural program Brownback put in place in 2012 in an effort to slow population decreases.