Special Reports

Wichita looks at ending Old Town tax district

All of the redevelopment projects financed by property tax money in a special district in Old Town have been paid off. Now city officials are recommending closing the tax increment financing district and refunding unspent tax money to USD 259, Sedgwick County and the city.

Tax increment finance districts channel property tax dollars generated by new improvements to flow into accounts that pay for special projects — such as streets, parks, lighting and public art. The money has also been used to acquire land for developers and demolish blighted buildings.

The Old Town TIF district — bounded by Douglas, Second Street, Santa Fe and Washington — generated a lot of new property tax that paid off a long list of projects years ago. It was one of the city's first TIF districts, established in 1991.

Officials have talked about ending the Old Town TIF district since 2008. But Old Town business owners and City Council members have kept the district alive to fund extra projects. They identified about $2.5 million in projects last November they hoped to complete.

On Tuesday, council members will vote to shut the district down and split the roughly $1 million balance in the TIF district account between the school district, county and city.

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