A downtown development group is asking voters in Wichita, Kan., to approve a proposed rebate of city hotel taxes to a downtown hotel in today’s election.

The Wichita Downtown Development Corp. said the rebate provides an opportunity to restore a historic building that would generate $235,000 in additional tax revenues for the city, county and school district.

An opponent of the tax plan said the development corporation legally cannot take a position on the tax rebate because it receives almost 90% of its funding from a 5.95 mill property tax.

Tom Docking, chairman of the development corporation, said a 1995 attorney general’s opinion cited by opponents is not valid in the Wichita case.

Petitioners forced a public vote on the hotel tax rebate after the Wichita City Council approved a plan to return 75% of the room tax generated at the hotel over the next 15 years.

The total rebate is estimated at $2.3 million.

Docking said the empty bank building now is generating only $22,000 a year in property tax revenues but the proposed hotel at the site would bring that tally up to $235,000 in its first full year of operations.

The 117-room Ambassador Hotel is the first project to complete Wichita’s new downtown development incentives policy review, Docking said.

Total cost of the downtown project is $29 million, including $22.6 million for the hotel.

The city has agreed to finance a $6 million parking garage and $1.7 million for land acquisition and infrastructure work.

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