Termination notice changed for three County contracts

Discussion about County funding for the Greater Wichita Economic Development sglogoCoalition (GWEDC), Exploration Place and the Sedgwick County Zoo took place at yesterday’s May 13 Commission meeting. Each of these three organizations currently has a five-year funding agreement in place with Sedgwick County. The agreements run through 2018 and require the County to notify each entity by June 1 about funding changes in the following calendar year. County funding for GWEDC is $300,000 per year during the five-year agreement or about 0.07 percent of the total County budget.

Citing concerns about the deficit in the proposed 2016 County budget, the Sedgwick County Commission voted in favor of moving the agreement termination notice for the five-year agreements for all three entities from June 1 to September 1. The 2016 budget is expected to be adopted August 12.

Wichita Metro Chamber Chairman Jon Rosell and GWEDC Chairman Gary Schmitt were among more than twenty-five local business leaders and citizens who spoke during the meeting in support of maintaining the five-year agreements. Most of the speakers voiced their approval for reviewing budgetary commitments made with taxpayer dollars, but also cited compelling reasons for the County to continue their multi-year funding agreements. Representatives of ten Chamber member organizations and businesses voiced their support of multi-year arrangements, including:  Visit Wichita, Wichita Public Schools, The Independent School, Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland, Boy Scouts of America/Quivira Council, Cox Machine, Inc., Friends University, Star Lumber & Supply Co., Exploration Place and the Sedgwick County Zoo.

An article in yesterday’s Wichita Eagle cites 14 additional agencies that have been notified about the possibility of changes in their funding from Sedgwick County. Some of those agencies are Chamber members, including:  Wichita Area Technical College, Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission, Wichita Festivals, Child Advocacy Center, Nonprofit Chamber of Service of Sedgwick County, Kansas African-American Museum, and South Central Kansas Economic Development District. Hearings on the budgeting for these organizations are scheduled for July 29 at 9 a.m. and August 6 at 6 p.m.

During the proceedings, Commissioners mentioned they had heard from a number of constituents prior to yesterday’s discussions. The Commissioners continue to welcome your questions and thoughts on these budget items and other important issues. Follow this link to our website for contact information for your elected officials.

You can learn more about yesterday’s decision here:
Sedgwick County pushes back termination option for zoo funding – Wichita Eagle
Sedgwick County Commission punts funding decision to September – KMUW
Sedgwick County delays decision on funds for zoo, eco-devo – Wichita Business Journal
County gives notice to 17 agencies about possible funding changes – KWCH-TV


What do the Zoo, Exploration Place and Jobs have in common?

Discussion about County funding for all three are expected to be on the agenda for the Sedgwick County Commission meeting next Wednesday, May 13. Commissioners have proposed reviewing the multi-year funding agreements the County has with the Sedgwick County Zoo, Exploration Place, and the organization charged with leading area economic development efforts, the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition (GWEDC).

The next meeting of the Sedgwick County Commissioners will include a discussion about the County partnership with the Zoo, Exploration Place, and GWEDC.

The next meeting of the Sedgwick County Commissioners will include a discussion about the County’s partnership with the Zoo, Exploration Place, and GWEDC.

An article published in the Wichita Eagle provides background information about how the County funding is used and the importance of these partnerships. An Eagle editorial makes the case for keeping these long-term partnerships in place.

Sedgwick County Zoo’s funding agreement with county in jeopardy
Wichita Eagle – 5/3/15

County shouldn’t shred agreements
Wichita Eagle – 5/6/15

While it’s always fiscally prudent to review budgetary commitments made with taxpayer dollars, there are also compelling reasons to continue the current funding commitments for these three organizations. Long-term public-private partnerships symbolize the County’s commitment that each of these organizations need to achieve maximum positive results for our region.

Believing that each of these organizations have an impact on our quality of life and our ability to grow and attract businesses and a talented workforce, Chamber leadership plans to attend and weigh in on the discussion among the County Commissioners on May 13. We encourage you to do likewise.

Commissioners welcome your questions and your thoughts in advance of the meeting on this and other issues. The phone number for all Commissioners is 316-660-9300, where you can leave a voicemail. You may also reach them by email or Twitter:

dunruh@sedgwick.gov or @DaveUnruhSedgCo

tnorton@sedgwick.gov or @TimNortonSC

THIRD DISTRICT – Karl Peterjohn
kpeterjo@sedgwick.gov or @KarlPeterjohn

FOURTH DISTRICT – Richard Ranzau

Jim.Howell@sedgwick.gov or @Howell4KS

Use this link to confirm your district and your representative

Meetings are held in the Commission Meeting Room located on the third floor of the Sedgwick County Courthouse at 525 N. Main. If you plan to attend, please arrive by 8:45 a.m. since seating is limited.

We’ve also provided other important links so that you can follow this issue:

View the May 13 agenda once it has been published

Join the social media conversation
#ontheagenda  @GWEDC  @SedgwickCoZoo  @DiscoverAtEP  @SedgwickCounty

Watch the Commission meeting live
http://www.sedgwickcounty.org/e-video.asp or tune in to KPTS Channel 8 at 9 a.m. on Wednesday

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