Roeland Park still bracing its budget for anticipated Walmart departure by growing fund balance

A lease has been renewed for the Roeland Park Walmart.
A lease has been renewed for the Roeland Park Walmart.

Roeland Park has been successfully building its general fund balance since raising property taxes three years ago. That increase in the balance is designed to offset the loss of the Roe Boulevard Walmart store, which is still anticipated by Roeland Park.

City Administrator Keith Moody told residents at a budget forum last week that the 2013 fund balance of $1.315 million is projected to rise to $2.288 million in 2016 and could rise to more than $2.6 million by the end of 2017.

Although Walmart has signed a new lease, “it does not assure us they will be there until 2021,” Moody said. The city is basing its future budgeting on the assumption that it will lose Walmart in 2018 creating a 35 percent loss of sales tax revenue in 2018 and a 40 percent loss in 2019. The store could see new tenants after that.

Moody said the city is planning for a “very likely” financial event and making sure it has enough money on hand to weather the downturn. The loss of Walmart and its ripple effect could combine to cost the city $700,000 per year in sales tax until the store has new tenants.

Leaving the space dark does not help the property owner, Moody said. “They will have motivation to act,” he said. A Community Improvement District and Tax Increment Financing District are already in place and have been collecting money. That “could become a significant incentive” for the owner to do something, Moody said.

“There’s a whole lot of critical mass” in the area, Mayor Joel Marquardt said. The nearby Price Chopper and Lowe’s, he said, are some of the best performing in the metro. The planned redevelopment of the old pool site also could bring more commercial activity to the area.

Since 2012, the Walmart has been part of the plan for a new Gateway development in Mission. A revised plan was filed in the last several days that will again need approval from the Mission planning commission and city council.

Despite the renewal of its Roeland Park lease, Moody said, Walmart is known for opening new stores and closing its old ones.

The Roeland Park City Council in 2013 instituted a property tax increase that was designed to compensate for the loss of Walmart sales tax revenue.