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Sedgwick County commissioners were divided Wednesday over funding to support an upcoming air show at McConnell Air Force Base. The Wings Over McConnell event will take place this weekend, and the county has supported the show in the past.
Commissioners Richard Ranzau and Karl Peterjohn argued against the funding, saying it was not a proper use of tax dollars. Ranzau said he understood the need to support McConnell, but he didn't believe the funding would make a difference in determining whether the base would get new air refueling tankers.
Commissioner Jim Skelton argued that the base brings economic activity to the community, and it generates an annual payroll of $525 million. He said it also creates 2,500 jobs for the community.
Skelton said the air show provides a critical social and economic link between the community and military leaders. He pointed out that around 150,000 people could attend the event.
Commissioner Dave Unruh proposed the county provide the funding as a grant, without having a "chalet tent" as it has in the past. The county has invited local elected leaders to the tent, and it has also provided space for community agencies to bring people to the air show.
The commissioners voted 3-2 to approve the $10,000 as a grant, with Ranzau and Peterjohn voting no.