Vol. 2, Issue 3                                                                                  March 2017
Sedgwick County, Winner or Loser?

As a Sedgwick County Commissioner, I have been lobbied by advocates on both sides of HB2173. This legislation is attempting to establish slot machine gaming at the Wichita Greyhound Park.  The bill passed the first step and now awaiting action by the House.  Looking at testimony on the bill thus far, it seems the politicians, proponents, and opponents simply argued for whatever position they think favors them financially. But in this case, there is plenty more to consider. 

If revenue to the County was all I cared about, I guess I’d be an advocate for HB2173. This change is estimated to create about 4,000 jobs and the gaming revenue is estimated to benefit Sedgwick County government to the tune of about $1.5 million per year. These lofty numbers are a good selling point but they are not the full picture.

Typically, Sedgwick County receives about $1.8 million annually from the Kansas Star Casino. That amount would obviously decrease if there is suddenly other nearby gaming that is competing with the Kansas Star.  Unless there is a huge increase in gambling, I’m not convinced there will be more jobs or revenue when we look at both sides of the equation.  Shifting some of the gambling 26 miles to the north does not create prosperity for Kansas or Sedgwick County but it will hurt our State, Sumner County, and Mulvane. 

If the bill passes, Sedgwick County will have to conduct another election which will cost the County about $124,000.  The Kansas Lottery indicates that the State is prohibited from designating additional areas of the state where gaming facilities are authorized until July 1, 2032. Conducting a revote may be viewed as an expansion of gaming that is prohibited under the Kansas Expanded Lottery Act. If it is determined that the bill violates this provision, the State will be required to refund the privilege fees which right now is estimated to be $110,000,000.  The Attorney General also issued an opinion that essentially says breaking this agreement will cost the State that refund.

Assuming all those hurdles get jumped, then the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission estimates that they will need another $1.8 million per year to regulate just this one site. 

I’m not a fan of gambling anyway but I’m definitely opposed to HB2173 because I only see one winner in this proposal and it sure looks like the rest of us will lose.  

County's Strategic Plan Focuses on Core Priorities
Sedgwick County’s first strategic plan in nearly 20 years is now available for review online.  The mission of Sedgwick County is to provide quality public services to our community so everyone can pursue freedom and prosperity in a safe, secure, and healthy environment.  Along with the new mission, a new vision and organizational values were established.  The organization will focus efforts on four core priorities: safe and secure communities, human services and cultural experiences, communications and engagement, and effective government organization. 

Review the new plan  here
Community Crisis Center Summit Hosts Industry Leader
Leon Evans, president and CEO of The Center for Health Care Services, shared his experiences in developing an innovative and highly integrated system of care for people with mental health disorders in the San Antonio community.  Attendees at the event at the end of February learned about the importance of strong community networks and partnerships when creating effective changes in the mental health services.

Sheriff Jeff Easter and District Attorney Marc Bennett participated in a panel discussion with COMCARE’s Executive Director Marilyn Cook and Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay. The panel discussed community needs for 2017 and the future.  

Click here to learn more about COMCARE’s Community Crisis Center.  

Public Safety Honors Kid Heroes
Two local children were honored by Public Safety for their services to the community Thursday afternoon, March 2. Easton Smith was shopping with his mother when he found someone in need of help. He and his mother called 9-1-1 and stayed with the individual until EMS arrived.  

McKenzie Craig has been donating Girl Scout cookies to local first responders in Sedgwick County. Her project has earned the nickname “Operation Pay it Forward” as more than $400 worth of cookies have been donated. 
Appraiser Reports on Real Property Valuations
Recently, Sedgwick County Appraiser Michael Borchard shared his report of 2017 real estate appraisals with the Board of County Commissioners.  The full presentation can be found here.

Real property value notices were mailed to property owners on Wednesday, March 1, if there was a change in property value or classification from 2016.   The Appraiser’s office mailed more than 111,000 real property value notices in 2017. That is roughly 51 percent of all properties in Sedgwick County.  Property owners who did not receive a notice may view their 2017 appraisal information online here.   
Severe Weather Safety - Build a Kit, Make a Plan, Stay Informed
March 6 through 10 was Severe Weather Awareness Week in Kansas.  Sedgwick County Emergency Management is hosting free severe weather safety classes around the county through April.  Find one near you here.  Attendees will learn the basics of thunderstorm development, storm structures and features, how to recognize them, and how to stay safe from them.  What, when and how to report severe weather information will also be covered. 

Find out more information on severe weather safety and preparation online and through the Sedgwick County app.  

Video Resources: 
Contact Commissioner Jim Howell: 
525 N. Main, Ste 320, Wichita, KS 67203

Contact Public Information Officer:
Kate Flavin, 316-660-9370
525 N. Main, Ste 343, Wichita, KS 67203

Contact Corporate Communications Manager:
Keturah Austin, 316-660-9370
525 N. Main, Ste 343, Wichita, KS 67203