February 15, 2011
The Wichita city council approved a letter of intent Tuesday to grant the Greater Wichita YMCA revenue bonds and tax credits for a new downtown facility.
The new facility would replace the current Central Branch YMCA located at 402 N. Market. The YMCA is asking the city for $23 million in industrial revenue bonds, which the corporation will pay back over time, at a low interest rate. Supporters of this type of funding for the project say YMCA facilities are owned by the community, as it is a not-for-profit corporation that provides scholarships for those who can't afford membership fees.
A representative of Wichita's Downtown Development Corporation also spoke in favor of the funding, saying the new building would be a major boost to the revitalization of the area.
Rodney Steven II, owner of Genesis Health Clubs spoke in opposition to the measure. He says tax breaks to the YMCA have forced other gyms to close their doors in the past. He also says the tax credits create an unfair business environment, and argued that the YMCA does not have enough charitable expenses to actually make it a charity.
The letter of intent for revenue bonds and tax credits was approved with a vote of 5-0. Two council members did not vote as they serve on the board for the YMCA.