DALLAS - Officials in Wichita, Kan., will have to come up with Plan B for street, transit and jobs projects after voters soundly rejected the city's first sales tax.
"The clock is ticking for Wichita and we must act in an urgent manner while competing cities are moving forward," Mayor Carl Brewer said in a press conference after the Nov. 4 ballots were counted.
The city proposed adding one cent per dollar to the sales tax to raise $400 million over five years. Under the ballot language, the city would have been required to end the tax once the $400 million was collected. The language also required the city to use the money only for the particular projects that are listed.
The sales tax was designed to provide $250 million for an underground water storage system, $27.8 million for street maintenance, $39.8 million for transit and $80 million for job development.
Wichita residents pay a 6.15% state sales tax and a 1% county sales tax. The city sales tax, if passed, would have raised the total sales tax for Wichitans to 8.15%.
About $16 million or 20% of the job funding would have been used to offset business costs for moving or expanding locally or investing in Wichita research projects.
The Wichita region lost 13,000 of its nearly 38,000 aircraft manufacturing jobs between 2008 and 2010. The numbers do not include jobs in businesses that are dependent on aircraft manufacturing. More recently, in 2013, Boeing closed its defense plant in Wichita citing cuts in federal defense spending.
Wichita carries general obligation bond ratings of Aa1 from Moody's Investors Service and AA-plus from Standard & Poor's. Outlooks are stable.