After months of robo-calls, mailers and yard signs on both sides of the issue, Wichita voters voted no to giving the Ambassador Hotel a majority of the guest tax revenue it generates. Here's a look at the results:
No: 61% or 16,198 voters
Yes: 38% or 10,107 voters
Usually guest tax revenue generated by hotels goes directly to the Convention and Visitors Bureau. However, the incentive package approved by the Wichita City Council council would have allowed the developer to keep 75% of the guest tax to put back into the hotel.
Tuesday's special election means the guest tax generated at the hotel will be spent to promote tourism.
In October 2011, the city council approved millions of dollars in incentives to build the boutique hotel. The guest tax was just one of several incentives, including tax increment financing and creating a community improvement district.
The reason the public only voted on the guest tax portion of the incentive package was because it took special action by the city council to divert those funds. That special action allowed the public to file petition for a public vote. Americans for Prosperity (AFP) collected enough signatures to prompt the special election.
It cost about $50,000 to hold the special election, which was paid for by the hotel developer. The hotel is under construction and planned to open regardless of the results of the election.
Developer Paul Coury told Eyewitness News, "I feel the message this sends is a bad one. I hope future developers don't pass on Wichita because of this, because the city is a really great place to do business."
Coury says he'll have to make cuts to make up for the money he won't get from the guest tax.