Merriam took the first step Monday in closing down the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) that helped build the Merriam Town Center development at Antioch and Johnson Drive, a major retail anchor for the city that produced millions of sales tax dollars.
The TIF agreement with Developers Diversified Realty Corporation (DDR) diverted the additional property tax from the development to pay off bonds. Those bonds will be paid off and the TIF will expire next February. The 65-acre district was valued at $951,045 in 1995 and has a current assessed valuation of $12,866,045, more than 13 times its original value.
“Many of us know what kind of environment that we replaced,” said Merriam Mayor Ken Sissom. “That was one of the highest crime areas in the city.” The district was primarily residential with single-family homes and apartments.
The TIF agreement started in February 1996 and the construction of the shopping center was complete in 1999. Since then, the city has collected $19 million in sales tax from the center, averaging $1.2 million per year for the last 15 years.
The city’s share of property tax will increase by $328,914 once the TIF expires. All of the other taxing districts, including the school district and the county will see an increase in property taxes as well.
Sissom also credited the TIF and the center with possibly being the catalyst for bigger change. “This might have been the impetus for a change in the whole region,” he said. “Without it, we might not have IKEA or Hobby Lobby.”
The $14,788,972 in TIF bonds will be paid in full by Feb. 1. The Merriam City Council heard first reading of an ordinance that will formally end the Merriam Town Center TIF Redevelopment District.