There are several sources of funding for the City of Merriam’s Capital Improvement Program. The majority of Merriam’s shares of the program costs are financed from sales tax collected within the city. The City dedicates half of all city sales tax plus the county’s original ¼-cent Public Safety sales tax to the Capital Improvement Fund. Other transfers are received from Transient Guest Tax Fund and I-35 Redevelopment District Fund.
In November 2000, Merriam voters approved two 1/8th-cent sales tax increases. One-eighth cent was dedicated to residential street improvements, and 1/8th-cent was dedicated for public enhancements to the Downtown Merriam district.
In August 2005, Merriam voters approved the renewal of the 1/4th-cent sales tax. The renewal of this tax kept sales tax levels at the current rate and dedicated both 1/8th-cents to residential street improvements. The 1/4th-cent sales tax was collected from January 2006 to December 2010. The increased revenues provided funding for street reconstruction projects throughout the city and enabled the acceleration of the street reconstruction program.
In January 2010, City voters approved a new ¼ -cent sales tax dedicated to stormwater drainage and street improvements. The tax was approved by mail-in ballot and will be collected from January 2011 through December 2020. The tax will provide funding needed to complete the street reconstruction program as well as construct several drainage improvement projects previously identified in the Northeast Johnson County Watershed Study dated November 2006 as well as others identified by residents and City staff.
In recent years, the City of Merriam has received significant contributions toward project costs via intergovernmental funding. In many cases, projects can be undertaken only with the additional funding provided from these sources.
Outside sources of CIP funding include:
• CARS County Assisted Road System (Johnson County)
• SMP* Stormwater Management Program (Johnson County)
• SMAC* Stormwater Management Advisory Council (Johnson County)
• KDOT Kansas Department of Transportation (State Fund)
• CDBG Community Development Block Grant (Federal Fund)
• BR/STP** Bridge/Surface Transportation Program (Federal Fund)
• STP Surface Transportation Program (Federal Fund)
• Other Federal Funds
• Private Investments (joint projects)
*Note: SMP and SMAC are sometimes used interchangeably. SMAC is the Advisory Council for SMP.
**Note: BR/STP is now STP. The new Transportation Bill (MAP-21) combined Bridges as part of Surface Transportation Program.
Developing a Capital Improvement Program
The development process of Capital Improvement Program involves input from various groups within the City of Merriam. Following suggestions/requests from citizens, staff identifies and ranks the project based on the following criteria in their impacts.
• Property Value/Loss of Property
• Safety Concerns
• Outside source of funding
• Community-wide Benefit
• Staff priority
After review and consideration, staff recommends appropriate projects to City Council along with project impact and approximate cost of improvement. The council reviews staff report and staff receive Council’s inputs and prioritization. Council usually reviews the capital improvement program each spring as part of the City’s budget process.
City Council’s Role in the CIP
City Council is the decision making body of the City and approves all project budgets included in the CIP. The Capital Improvement Program is prioritized and authorized by the Council each year.
Once a project is part of the five-year capital improvement program, City Council approves various milestones during the project. These milestone approvals include:
• Selection of engineer or architect
• Review of concept studies and designs
• Approve designs and concurrence to bid
• Acceptance of construction bid
• Approval of change orders during construction
• Acceptance of certificate of completion