Discussion about County funding for the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition (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