Merriam to send out mail-in ballots for quarter-cent sales tax renewal on Jan. 8, still time to register to vote

Merriam residents can still register to vote and request a mail-in ballot to vote on the quarter-cent sales tax renewal.

The city of Merriam on Jan. 8 will mail out ballots for registered residents to vote on a quarter-cent sales tax, a renewal of a 20-year sales tax that funds strictly street, bridge and drainage improvements throughout the city.

Merriam has held two public meetings on the quarter-cent sales tax, and will hold a third and final meeting on Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. at City Hall. For residents who could not attend any of the meetings, the city put together an informational video where City Administrator Chris Engel explains what the sales tax entails.

“This is a critical issue in our community and it’s important that you educate yourself on this issue before you receive your mail-in ballot,” Engel said in the video.

In 2000, the quarter-cent sales tax went into effect for the first time. Since then, it’s funded the city’s infrastructure, Engel said. It was renewed by a majority of voters in 2005 for five years, and again in 2010 for 10 years. The current sales tax expires on Dec. 31, 2020, and the city is looking to renew the sales tax from Jan. 1, 2021 to Dec. 31, 2030.

Although the sales tax generated $3.5 million from Merriam residents over the last 10 years, the “pull factor” — or the sales tax collected in Merriam from non-residents — brought in $13.8 million, Engel said. The predictability of the sales tax allowed the city turn the total $17.3 million into $37.6 million worth of projects, he said.

The quarter-cent sales tax has funded 22 projects across Merriam, with eight more projects in the works. The completed projects focused on major thoroughfares and include the following:

  • 54th Street drainage project improved functionality and appearance
  • Farley Avenue reconstruction included new street surface, curb and gutter
  • Corrugated metal pipe system replacement throughout the city

If residents vote against the quarter-cent sales tax, Engel said the city will lose an average of $1.7 million in revenue each year. Additionally, he said the lack of the sales tax could result in budget cuts, a decrease in service levels and potentially a property tax increase.

Residents must be registered to vote, and can register here before the Jan. 7 deadline. Those who registered prior to Dec. 30, 2019 will automatically receive a mail-in ballot. Those who registered to vote between Dec. 31 and Jan. 7 must request a ballot from the Johnson County Election office here. Ballots are due by 12 p.m. on Jan. 28.