Opinion Columns & Blogs

Would bus subsidy break 1985 city pledge to voters?

Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell and City Council member Pete Meitzner haven’t won over Sedgwick County with their population-based claim on more of the proceeds of the 1 percent countywide sales tax, which they would earmark for the bus system and street repairs. Longwell and Meitzner may have to take their plea to Topeka. But their predecessors left them another roadblock, in the form of an ordinance unanimously passed in June 1985 by the then-City Commission pledging to spend half of the city’s share on road and bridge projects and the other half on property tax relief – a split that doesn’t seem to allow for a bus subsidy. “The point of ‘taking the pledge’ is to increase the salability of the sales tax to voters,” The Eagle editorial board said in urging for such a 50-50 commitment, which was also made by the County Commission. Voters approved the sales tax later that summer. Though such a pledge made by one local governing body does not legally bind those elected later, city leaders would have to justify their decision to break what was a promise made in good faith. – Rhonda Holman