WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Wichita City Council had a busy day with its Tuesday meeting. One vote will impact all City of Wichita water customers.
Water and sewer rates
The council voted 7-0 to approve rate increases for water and sewer services for 2024. If approved, the average residential user would see their bill increase by $3.63 monthly. The city says the rates are needed for ongoing maintenance and construction of water and sewer utilities. Significant projects impacting the rate are the new Northwest Water Facility project and the Biological Nutrient Removal project.
Landlords who retaliate against renters
Another item members considered is an ordinance on retaliatory evictions. The proposed ordinance would fine landlords who evict tenants for complaining about living conditions. But council members pointed out that only two district advisory boards have heard the ordinance details. They want all the DABs to consider the ordinance and provide input before they vote on it. They voted to move the topic to the Dec. 19 council meeting.
$5,000 bonus for police officers
The council also postponed discussing a $5,000 bonus for police officers. The City of Wichita and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5 developed the bonus idea to encourage retaining current FOP members. Wichita is short about 100 police officers. The money for the bonuses would come from 2023 salary savings. The mayor made a motion that the topic be tabled until later this year. His motion included bringing the topic back when the council discusses the FOP contract and the Jensen Hughes recommendations for the WPD. His motion passed 4-3. Council Members Bryan Frye, Jeff Blubaugh and Becky Tuttle voted against delaying the vote. They were concerned that the FOP contract may not be ready by the end of the year and that the officers wouldn’t get the bonus in time for holiday spending.
New WPD Patrol West substation
The council voted 7-0 to build a new Wichita Police Department Patrol West substation. It will go in on the southwest corner of 13th Street North and Country Acres. USD 259 agreed to sell the City of Wichita the land near Northwest High School for $450,000. The current station, located at 661 N. Elder, has become obsolete, and more officers and staff are working there than the building was initially intended to serve.
Licensing for after-hours clubs
The council approved the amendment of an ordinance relating to after-hours establishments by a vote of 7-0. In recent months, there has been an increase in violence at after-hours clubs, including a shooting in October. The Wichita Police Department has not been enforcing the ordinance since a Kansas Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.
Stadium Hotel Project
Another item on the agenda was the adoption of the Stadium Hotel Project Plan — deciding whether to change the TIF (tax increment financing) around Riverfront Stadium. The TIF would fund site work, infrastructure and riverfront improvements, and public parking for a new hotel, apartments and retail space. EPC Real Estate Group is planning the project. The city council voted 6-1 for the change. Council Member Jeff Blubaugh voted against the item.
The council also unanimously approved:
- A winter shelter funding agreement
- Redbud Trail design
- Snow removal and heavy equipment replacements