Spring came, but a surge in city sales tax collections did not; look for parking lot projects at both Walmart stores

photo by: Adobe Stock

Let’s look at some news and notes from around town:

As spring sprung, both dandelions and dollars began to sprout in communities across the state. In Lawrence, the dandelions appeared to be the more active of the two.

The April report from the Kansas Department of Revenue shows sales tax collections in Lawrence grew, but only slightly and at a rate far below most of the other major retail communities in the state.

Lawrence sales tax collections were up 0.6% compared with the same month a year ago. That was below the average growth rate of 2.1% in the state, and Lawrence ranked seventh out of the nine major retail communities that we track.

Here’s a look at the numbers. As a reminder, the report is for April, but due to normal delays in sales tax reporting, the numbers largely represent sales made in March.

Kansas City: up 7.2%

Salina: up 4.6%

Topeka: up 3.7%

Olathe: up 3.7%

Lenexa: up 3.2%

Shawnee: up 3.3%

Lawrence: up 0.6%

Sedgwick County: up 0.1%

Overland Park: down 3.3%

Statewide: up 2.1%

More important than a single month’s worth of results is the overall trend for the year. Lawrence is doing better on that front, but it is falling well short of what it needs to meet its sales tax budget for 2024. The city counts on about 5% sales tax growth to fund various budget items, with the city’s capital improvements plan being one of the key budget items that count on sales tax growth. As the list below shows, Lawrence is nowhere close to that 5% mark, and is flirting with posting an actual decline in sales tax revenues.

Olathe: up 2.1%

Kansas City: up 1.2%

Shawnee: up 1.1%

Topeka: up 0.6%

Lawrence: up 0.1%

Salina: down 1.2%

Lenexa: down 2.0%

Sedgwick County: down 2.0%

Overland Park: down 3.0%

Statewide: down less than 0.1%

Could Lawrence still meet its 5% growth target in 2024? Yes, but the April report provides no optimism that it will. A miss on the projections won’t necessarily cause the city to make major budget adjustments this year. But given that the city also missed last year’s growth projection, the city may have to consider changing its approach going forward. Those changes could involve the city deciding to spend less on capital improvement projects — which includes road and building projects — or deciding to increase the amount of property taxes it allocates to capital improvement projects. That last option, could impact the tax rate that city property owners pay.


The two Walmart stores in Lawrence have to be a couple of the biggest sales tax generators in town. (I’ve long thought it would be more efficient if the greeters just asked for everything in my wallet upon entry.)

Some of you may have noticed signs of pending construction work at both the south Iowa Street and west Sixth Street stores. Both sites have had the yellow public notice signs that the city requires when a property is seeking some sort of zoning or development change on its property.

Well, there are changes coming to both Walmart locations, but they aren’t particularly exciting. No major expansion is in store for either site, but both are planning makeovers for their parking lots.

According to the plans filed at City Hall, both projects will focus on adding additional spaces for online grocery pick-up. They also will improve some crosswalk areas and add some stop signs, according to the documents.


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