Merriam voters approve renewing 1/4-cent sales tax for next 10 with 80% support

The 55th Street drainage improvement, a nearly $500,000 project, was funded by Merriam’s quarter-cent sales tax.

Merriam residents have approved the renewal of the quarter-cent sales tax, with nearly 80% of votes in favor of the renewal — the highest approval rate in the history of the city’s special sales tax votes.

The quarter-cent sales tax has funded Merriam infrastructure project for the last 20 years, as the funds can only be used for street, bridge and drainage improvement projects.  Unofficial results from the mail-in ballot election released by the Johnson County Election Office Tuesday show just over 2,000 residents voted for a total voter turnout of 28%. Four hundred voters cast ballots against renewing the tax.

The city mailed out ballots to over 7,000 registered residents after holding two informational meetings on the sales tax and another meeting the day after ballots were sent.

“We’re encouraged to know Merriam voters entrust us to continue to put this special sales tax money to good use to provide the high level of service our residents deserve and expect from our city,” City Administrator Chris Engel said in a statement to the Shawnee Mission Post.

Over the last two decades, the quarter-cent sales tax funded 22 projects across the city, and there are at least eight more projects scheduled to come. Completed improvements included the Farley Avenue reconstruction and the 54th Street drainage project.

The quarter-cent sales tax also generated $3.5 million from Merriam residents and $13.8 million from non-Merriam residents in the last 10 years. Additionally, it allowed the city to turn $17.million into $37.6 million worth of projects, Engel said in an informational video. If residents had not approved the quarter-cent sales tax, the city would have lost $1.7 million in revenue, annually, Engel said.

Merriam first approved the special sales tax in 2000, renewed it in 2005 for five years and again in 2010 for 10 years. Tuesday’s approval will put the quarter-cent sales tax in place from Jan. 1, 2021 to Dec. 31, 2030.