Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Richard Ranzau startled many observers by scolding major employer Spirit AeroSystems in a public hearing Wednesday, in response to a company executive who asked the county not to reduce funding for the Wichita Area Technical College, Sedgwick County Zoo or Exploration Place. But Ranzau and fellow Commissioner Karl Peterjohn routinely challenge and criticize business executives who come before the commission as part of proposed economic development partnerships with the city – questioning their plans, the accuracy of their numbers and even the sincerity of the need for the requested incentives. “You’re in a better position to pay for this than we are,” Ranzau told a Bombardier Learjet executive in 2011 about a request for the county to kick in $1 million for a parking lot, also doubting the company was telling the truth about considering expanding places other than Wichita. The same year, Ranzau suggested another company cut wages by 7 cents an hour rather than ask the county for a forgivable loan. – Rhonda Holman
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