A $9.2 billion to $10.3 billion gap exists between how much Wichita needs to invest in infrastructure and how much it will collect in revenue in the next 20 years, a working draft of a new comprehensive plan for the city and Sedgwick County says.
County commissioners got a look at the draft of the CommunityInvestments Plan this week.
The current comprehensive plan for the city and county dates back to 1993. The working draft of the new plan says that “a new plan is needed in an era of diminishing revenues and fiscal constraint.”
Wichita is expected to grow by 64,000 people to 448,000 by 2035, according to the draft. Jobs are expected to grow at a rate of less than 1 percent per year — 0.7 percent to be exact — during the next 20 years, adding a total of 31,200 jobs by 2035.
The committee looked at three growth scenarios, one following current trends, one for constrained suburban growth and one for a mix of suburban growth and “infill” growth in the city’s core. The recommended plan is based on the third scenario.
Community groups and residents who gave input to the plan’s steering committee said they wanted to see growth in Wichita’s core area, not just in the suburbs, said Cindy Miles, co-chair of the committee.
“There are some areas in the core area that really have become run-down,” she said.
The core area as defined in the draft plan is bounded by Pawnee on the south, Woodlawn on the east, 21st Street on the north and the Big Ditch on the west.
The plan would defer construction of the Northwest Bypass and the South Area Parkway beyond 2030 because of lack of funding. It would increase investment levels in existing city infrastructure, increase infill and redevelopment in the core area and improve and expand public transportation.
“It’s balanced growth with increased focus on the central area,” said John Schlegel, director of the city-county planning department.
Schlegel said the plan will help leaders “make better decisions on how to spend what we do have available to spend. We have a very long list of projects that have been identified that different groups and constituencies want built, but there really isn’t enough money to build everything. The message that the community is sending is that they really don’t want their taxes increased. Unless the community wants to dramatically increase the amount it taxes itself, we have to make some hard choices about what we will spend on and what we won’t spend on.”
The Wichita City Council will study the plan at a workshop later this month. City and county leaders will put the final touches on the draft in March. Meetings with community groups and residents will take place in March through May. A public hearing will take place in July or August, and the City Council and County Commission are scheduled to adopt a plan in September.