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Wichita, Kansas

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Wichita is the largest city in Kansas with a population of 361,420. Wichita is the county seat of Sedgwick County.

Public employees

City council

According to the official Wichita, Kansas website, the mission of the city council is to "provide policy direction for the City of Wichita in developing, implementing, and maintaining services to the citizens of Wichita. The Council establishes policy direction for the City by enacting ordinances, laws, policies, adopting the budget, levying taxes, and appointing members to citizen advisory boards and commissions."[1]

The council is made up of 7 members that are elected to four-year terms on a nonpartisan basis with staggered terms of office. Six Council members are elected by district, and the mayor is elected at-large.[2]

In addition to regular meetings, the city council holds monthly public city council workshops where the members have the opportunity to review and discuss important issues, staff projects and future Council meeting agenda items. The City Manager and staff attend to present topics for discussion and to answer Council questions. Citizens may also be asked by the Council to provide input. The City Council does not take official action during workshop sessions; therefore, audience comments on agenda items are made only at the request of the Mayor or Council Members.

The city council are working on meeting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Water Act. Council member Michael O'Donnell called for the city and state to "make the EPA as inconsequential as possible" in order to help the city and its economic development.[3]

Mayor

Wichita's mayor is Carl Brewer.[4]

City manager

Wichita's city manager is Robert Layton.[5]

Budget

2012 Budget Revenues[6]
Source Revenues % of Total
Property tax $105,134,617 19%
Sales tax $50,824,974 9%
Franchise fees $40,061,706 7%
Appropriated balances $49,162,818 9%
Special assessments $36,701,774 7%
Other fund balances $18,209,962 3%
Charges for service $158,407,792 29%
Other sources $90,810,139 17%
Total Revenues $549,313,783 100%
2012 Budget Expenditures[6]
Category Expenditures % of Total
Salaries and Benefits $200,373,276 36%
Contractuals $77,894,464 14%
Commodities $22,104,439 4%
Capital Outlay $4,219,120 1%
Other $37,273,583 7%
Debt Service $158,286,082 29%
Appropriated Reserves $49,162,818 9%
Total Expenditures $549,313,783 100%

Retirement costs

Pensions

Main article: Kansas public pensions

Wichita has two defined-benefit pension systems: Wichita Employees' Retirement System (WERS) and the Wichita Police and Fire Retirement System (WPFRS).[7]

For WERS, Wichita contributed $4,529,765 to the system in 2010 and has $24,128,000 in unfunded liabilities. The city contributed $13,119,984 into the WPFRS system and has accrued $38,982,000 in unfunded liabilities.[7]

OPEBs

The city of Wichita's other post-employment benefits are 0% funded and have $30,038,441 in unfunded liabilities.[7]

Taxes

Sales tax

The city gets a cut of a countywide 1% sales tax.[6]

Property tax

For 2012, Wichita's total property tax rate is 32.272.[6]

Transparency efforts

How to make public records requests

The City of Wichita maintains a page titled A Guide to Open Records which help citizens make records requests. A page titled Records Custodians gives the names and email addresses of records custodians for various departments of the city.

Citizen records requests

Recently Bob Weeks of the Voice For Liberty in Wichita made records requests from quasi-governmental agencies in Wichita that perform governmental functions and are funded wholly or substantially by tax funds. Each of the three agencies (Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition, and the Go Wichita Conventions and Visitors Bureau) refused to comply with the records requests on the basis that they are not subject to the Kansas Open Records Act.[8][9] Currently the Sedgwick County District Attorney is investigating these cases.

Citizen aptitude

The Wichita website offers a "Citizens Academy" for educating citizens on the workings of local government. It is an eight-week interactive program divided by sessions like "Local Government 101."[10]

Federal funding

Stimulus funds

Total ARRA Funds Coming to the City of Wichita[11]
Project Area Stimulus Funds
Infrastructure $16,094,635
Transit $6,629,186
Housing and Neighborhoods $4,934,046
Energy and Environment $4,257,500
Safety $1,559,048
Airport $329,910
Total 33,804,325

Housing and urban development funds

Wichita will receive slightly more than $2 million in funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.[12] This is in addition to any funds the city will be receiving through the 2009 federal stimulus package.

Economic development

City council members and other political and union leaders are trying to convince Boeing not to close its Wichita operations.[13]

Wichita's city council approved a $1 million incentive to Bombardier Learjet to expand in Wichita. Sedgwick County is matching with its own $1 million grant.[14]

Website evaluation

See also: Evaluation of Kansas city websites

To compare Wichita with other Kansas cities, see Evaluation of Kansas city websites. Last rated on March 19, 2013.

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Transparency grading process

The good

  • Elected Officials
    • Contact and biographical information for elected officials is posted.[15]
  • Meetings
    • Meeting minutes and agendas are posted.[16]
    • Agenda packets are provided to the public.[17]
    • Minutes and agendas are archived to 2008.
  • Administration
    • Contact information for city staff is posted.[18]
  • Budget
    • Budgets are posted.[19]
    • Budget documents are archived for three years.
  • Audit
    • Audits are posted.[20]
    • Audits for the past five years are available.
  • Taxes
    • Tax rates, including property taxes, sales taxes and other fees are posted in the budget.[21]
  • Contracts
    • Current bids are posted.[22]
    • Awarded bids are posted and archived to 1995.[23]
    • Vendor information, including bids and results, are posted on a separate vendor services website.
  • Permits and Zoning
    • Zoning ordinance is posted.[24]
    • Comprehensive plans are available.[25]
    • Permits are posted.[26]
  • Public Records
  • Lobbying
    • The city communications department, a division of the city manager's office, is responsible for intergovernmental lobbying.[28]
  • Lobbying
    • Under the "Community Relations" tab, county lobbying activities and any membership in government lobbying associations are disclosed.[29]
    • Total cost of lobbying activities or membership dues for associations are available.

External links

References