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

Although Merriam's May sales taxes are down by 20% — including sales taxes at Merriam Town Center, pictured above — Finance Director Donna Oliver said it was good news since the city forecasted sales taxes to be down by 80%. 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.”