What should be Wichita's priority for the future; a good water supply, replacing Century II, transportation? The next question is how does the city pay for those priorities? That's what council members are focusing on this month.
The only option for passenger train travel near Wichita is an early morning departure out of Newton. To expand service in the future, Wichita needs to get on board a national transportation study right now.
"I'm not a train guy by trade at all and this is about the region and the economy," said Wichita City Council member Pete Meitzner.
That's why the Council will talk about passenger train service on Tuesday in a workshop meant to prioritize what the city can pay for and what it can not.
"The City Manager is working on the budget as we speak," said Mayor Carl Brewer.
Last week, council members heard about other possibilities with big ticket prices. Creating a Jobs Fund to attract more businesses to town would cost $90 million. Replacing Century II with a new arts and entertainment center could be a $592 million project.
Fixing up Lawrence Dumont stadium has a price tag of $49 million and building a new library is another $30 million dollars.
Plus finding a new source of water was tops on the City's priority list. But it too comes with a big cost, potentially several hundred million dollars. Money which isn't lying around in the general fund.
"Now how do we come up with funds to be able to pay for these, or how do we stretch them out over a period of years," Brewer said.
The Council may look to increase the City's sales tax to pay for some of the priority projects, but that option has to go to a vote.
"At the end of the day, it will be up to the citizens if we decide to go to a sales tax," Meitzner said.
Time is a factor in this discussion. If the council wants to put a sales tax question on the November ballot, members need to get that process started by June 1st.