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Special districts have place

Because the sales-tax rate just rose statewide, local officials need to be cautious about designating "community improvement districts" in which even higher sales-tax rates are charged to help fund construction and other costs. But the districts, approved by the Legislature last year, have their strategic value as economic development tools. Under the right circumstances, the Wichita City Council can and should use the CID designation responsibly to help developers make things happen where they wouldn't otherwise — or at least won't happen until access to traditional financing eases.In the case of the WaterWalk Hotel CID, one of two proposed CIDs up for public hearing at today's City Council meeting, the extra 2 percent sales tax also has the compelling benefit of being paid largely by out-of-towners using the new Fairfield Inn and Suites.

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