FAQs: Special Street and Stormwater Sales Tax Renewal

Is this a new sales tax?

No. Merriam voters will decide if the City should renew an existing ¼-cent sales tax that is restricted for use on certain capital improvement projects. Merriam voters first approved this sales tax in 2000 and have since voted twice to renew it. 

In 2000, Merriam voters approved two special 1/8-cent sales taxes for five years to fund certain capital improvements – one for improvements specifically in downtown Merriam and one for street projects throughout the community. The 1/8-cent sales tax for downtown improvements passed with a 58% approval rate, and the 1/8-cent sales tax for streets passed with a 67% approval rate.

In 2005, the two 1/8-cent sales taxes were combined into a five-year ¼-cent sales tax to be used specifically for street improvements. Voters passed the renewal of this sales tax with a 69% approval rate.

In 2010, voters again renewed the ¼-cent sales tax with a 75% approval rate. In this election, the sales tax was extended to a 10-year term, and the ballot language was expanded to include streets, bridges, drainage, and stormwater projects.

The ballot language for the 2020 election is the same language that was approved in 2010.


What can this sales tax be used to pay for? 

This is a special sales tax that can only be used for the purpose of maintaining Merriam’s infrastructure. This includes projects like the reconstruction of residential streets, drainage improvements, and bridge repair/replacement through the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP). Funding for the CIP comes primarily from the City’s current ¼-cent sales tax and general fund. CIP projects improve neighborhoods by providing safer streets and sidewalks, increased visibility with the addition and maintenance of streetlights, as well as other critical improvements and upkeep of the City’s infrastructure.

Since the revenue from the sales tax is restricted, it can't be used to pay for general city operations or other special projects.

 

How much money is generated from this sales tax? 

It’s projected that by the time the current ¼-cent sales tax expires on December 31, 2020, the total amount collected since 2011 will be $17.3 million.

However, the City has actually completed more than $37.6 million in improvements throughout Merriam from this sales tax, with more than $17.9 million leveraged in grant funding. The City’s ability to leverage grant funding means the sales tax revenue collected was more than doubled – providing the City with the opportunity to complete additional critical improvements to our infrastructure.

Project Funding SourceProjected Final
¼-Cent City Street and Stormwater Sales Tax$17.3 million
Grant Funding (Federal, State, County)$17.9 million
Other Funding Sources$2.4 million
Total Improvements$37.6 million


How much more will this sales tax cost the average Merriam resident?

Nothing. Renewing this sales tax will not increase the sales tax rate in Merriam. Since 2001, Merriam shoppers have paid a ¼-cent sales tax to fund capital improvements. Renewing this sales tax simply protects the revenue and funding source used for key infrastructure projects in our community.

In addition, for every dollar of sales tax we collect in Merriam, about $0.80 comes from people outside of our community. This means that since 2011, Merriam residents paid only about $3.5 million of the $17.3 million in revenue generated by this sales tax.


What projects have been paid for with this sales tax in the last ten years?

54th St/54th Terr Drainage Improvements
55th St Drainage Improvement
70th Terrace Drainage Box
75th St - Antioch to Frontage Rd
75th St - E. Frontage Rd to Switzer
Antioch Overlay (67th to 75th)
Antioch Rd Mill/Overlay/Curb/Gutter (47th - 54th)
Antioch Rd Reconstruction (Johnson Dr. to 67th)
Antioch Rd Streetlights (67th to 75th)
Comprehensive Engineering Study/PES
Farley Avenue Reconstruction
Ground Penetrating Radar Street Evaluation
Johnson Dr Bridge over Turkey Creek
Johnson Dr Reconstruction (Kessler Ln to west limit)
Meyer Creek Drainage
Residential Street Group V
Shawnee Creek Drainage - East (Farley to Knox)
Shawnee Creek Drainage - West (Switzer to Farley)
Shawnee Mission Parkway Bridge over BNSF Rail
Shawnee Mission Pkwy/Antioch Intersection
Sherwood Forest Drainage Outlet Repair
Antioch Park Creek Drainage
67th St Reconstruction (west limit to Antioch Rd)*
Johnson Dr - Kessler to Mackey*
Merriam Dr - 55th St to Antioch*
Merriam Dr - Jo Dr to 55th St*
55th St - Merriam Dr to W. City Limit*
49th St - Antioch to Switzer*
Shawnee Misson Parkway / Turkey Creek Bridge Study/Rehab*
67th/E. Frontage Rd Intersection Study*
*Projects to be completed with funds collected prior to December 31, 2020.

Special Street/Stormwater Projects


What projects will be funded by this sales tax if it’s renewed?

A sample of projects that will be eligible for funding by this special tax include:

Eligible Projects
Merriam Dr – Johnson to Shawnee Mission Parkway ($1,243,000)
Carter Ave – Merriam Drive to 67th ($1,164,000)
47th St – Switzer to Antioch ($1,859,000)
80 Sections of Storm Drains Rated “Poor, High, and Medium/High” ($2,444,680)
305 Sections of Storm Drains Rated “Fair” (+$6,000,000)

Eligible Maintenance (10-yr estimate)
Overlay Supplement ($2,000,000)
Residential Streetlight Program ($1,000,000)
Sidewalk Repair Program ($2,000,000)
Small Drainage Projects – Replace/Rehab ($3,000,000)

The actual list of projects to be completed each year and funded with revenues from the Street and Stormwater Sales Tax will be determined during the annual budget process.


What is the ballot language? 

Shall the City of Merriam, Kansas be authorized to levy a special purpose city retailers’ sales tax in the amount of one-fourth of one percent (.25%) and to use revenue from such tax to pay the cost of improving certain City streets, bridges and associated drainage, which improvements may include grading, curbs, gutters, pavement and other surfacing, driveway entrances and structures, drainage work incidental thereto, service connections from utility mains, conduits or pipes necessarily lying within curb lines, streetlights, street lighting systems, storm water drains, retaining walls and area walls on public ways or land abutting thereon, sidewalks, street trees and landscaping, stormwater drainage projects, and all related improvements (“Improvements”) and all things necessary and related to such Improvements, and be authorized to pledge such sales tax for the payment of the principal and interest on general obligation bonds issued to pay the cost of such Improvements, provided that such retailers’ sales tax shall expire ten (10) years from the date it is first collected (expiration date of December 31, 2030), all pursuant to K.S.A. 12-187 et seq. and other applicable state statutory provisions?


When does the current sales tax expire?

The current ¼-cent sales tax for streets and stormwater expires on December 31, 2020.


Why are we voting on this now?

The revenue stream from this sales tax makes up a significant portion of the City’s capital improvement budget. Since the process to create the 2021 budget begins in spring 2020, voters must decide before then if the sales tax will be renewed when it expires on December 31, 2020. Knowing the outcome of the election prior to beginning the budget process will help City staff develop a budget based on accurate revenue projections.


If approved, will my sales tax rate go up?

No – a yes vote will not cause the sales tax rate to increase in Merriam. This is a renewal of an existing sales tax. If it’s approved, the amount you pay in sales tax in Merriam will stay the same.


What is the City’s current sales tax rate?

Merriam’s current sales tax rate is 9.475%. If the ¼-cent sales tax is approved, there will be no change in the current rate. The overall rate will remain at 9.475%.


How long would this sales tax be in effect?

Ten years, beginning January 1, 2021, and terminating December 31, 2030.


What happens if the sales tax isn’t renewed?

City services are generally funded by either property taxes, sales taxes, or user fees. If voters elect to not renew this sales tax, the City will have to consider alternative ways to fund the critical capital improvements this tax pays for. The projects funded by this sales tax are integral to the City’s basic infrastructure and must be done, regardless of funding source. This special sales tax creates a specific way to pay for these projects that maintain our community.


How do I vote?

First, you must be registered to vote. If you aren’t registered to vote, you can download the Voter Registration Application at www.jocoelection.org/registration. The deadline to register to vote in this election is January 7, 2020. However, voters who register after December 30, 2019 need to request a ballot – they will not be mailed one automatically.

The Johnson County Election Office will mail out ballots to all registered voters within Merriam city limits on January 6, 2020. The Election Office must receive all ballots by noon on January 28, 2020 to be counted in the official election results. Ballots can be mailed in the pre-paid envelope provided or dropped off at the Johnson County Election Office, 2101 E. Kansas City Road, Olathe, KS 66061.


When is the deadline to register to vote? 

The deadline to register to vote in this election is January 7, 2020. However, voters who register after December 30, 2019 need to request a ballot – they will not be mailed one automatically. If you aren’t registered to vote, you can download the Voter Registration Application at www.jocoelection.org/registration.

Additional information about voting and filling out the ballot can be found at www.jocoelection.org.