Merriam 2016 budget proposal supported by large sales tax base; no property tax rate change

MerriaM_City_HallA proposed Merriam budget for 2016, if adopted, would hold the city’s mill rate steady with the bulk of the general fund spending supported by sales tax revenue.

In Merriam, with a healthy retail and car dealership base, sales tax accounts for more than 58 percent of the general fund’s $17.735 million budget. That’s is perhaps the highest ratio of sales tax support in northeast Johnson County. Property tax from Merriam residents only pays for 22 percent of the budget or about $3.8 million compared to the $10 million load shouldered by sales tax.

In the draft budget presented to the city council this week, the mill rate would remain steady at 27.605 mills. Property values have started to rebound in the city, up three percent. Sales tax revenue is expected to increase 2.5 percent this year and another two percent in 2016.

“We think this is a good budget,” City Administrator Phil Lammers told the council. It calls for the addition of approximately 1.5 additional full-time equivalents and a salary range shift to meet market demand.

Councilor Al Frisby asked if “it would hurt us that much financially” to give one mill back on the property tax. Mayor Ken Sissom said he was worried that the city would not be able to recover the revenue if it is needed in the future because of the Kansas Legislature move to cap municipal property taxes without an election. Sissom pointed out that Merriam could be facing significant expenditures to repair or replace the community center and municipal pool in the future.