Merriam sales taxes down less than expected during COVID-19 shelter-in-place order

The Merriam 2040 comprehensive plan, among other things, conceptualizes improvements to the city's commercial centers such as Merriam Town Center (above), as well as downtown and the Shawnee Mission Parkway corridor. The concepts are intended to solicit feedback from the public, which will be taken up until the city council final approval in March. File photo.

The Merriam City Council on Monday evening heard the latest sales and use tax update for the month of May, when COVID-19 stay-at-home orders were still in place. Merriam’s report showed May sales taxes were down 20% overall, Finance Director Donna Oliver said.

Despite being down 20%, Oliver said she thought it “was very good news” since city staff forecasted sales taxes to be down by 80% due to the shelter-in-place order.

“That was quite a bit of a swing, that was good news,” Oliver said. “That disbursement made about a $500,000 difference on our ending fund balance.”

The city’s April 2020 1% and quarter-cent sales taxes were down by just more than 30%, according to city documents. The year-to-date 1% and quarter-cent sales taxes are also down by just more than 1% from 2019.

Below are some specific April 2020 sales tax figures:

  • Auto sales were down a 43.5% compared to 2019
  • Merriam Town Center and Johnson Drive sales are down nearly 48% compared to 2019
  • Sales taxes listed as “other” are down by almost 8% compared to 2019

Year-to-date 1% and quarter-cent sales tax figures are as follows:

  • Auto sales are down by a little more than 11% compared to 2019
  • Merriam Town Center and Johnson Drive sales are down 18% compared to 2019
  • Sales taxes listed as “other” are down by nearly 43% compared to 2019

County and state stay-at-home orders began in late March 2020 and lasted until the beginning of May. Oliver said the 20% decrease could have been better if the stay-at-home orders had been lifted earlier.

“As you may recall, everything was kind of still shut down until around [May 10 or May 12], that’s when everything kind of opened back up,” Oliver said. “If it had been opened the whole month, possibly it would have been even better news.”