The proposed FY 2013 Budget for Johnson County Government holds the line on the county’s property taxes for a seventh straight year.
It also keeps a lid on finances.
The county’s proposed budget for next year totals $810.6 million. That is at the same level of the county’s current total budget amount. The FY 2013 expenditures are estimated at $664.2 million, which are $17.7 million less than current budgeted expenditures. The county’s annual budget funds 29 departments and five agencies that comprise Johnson County Government.
The proposed 2013 Budget was drafted without an increase in the county’s current taxing levy at 23.188 mills, which traditionally has been the lowest mill levy among 105 counties in Kansas. The county has maintained a constant mill levy since 2007 when the mill levy was 23.199.
The spending proposal for next year was unveiled Thursday, May 31, during an afternoon Committee of the Whole session of the Johnson County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) by representatives from the County Manager's Office and the Budget and Financial Planning Department.
Preparation of the proposed budget under the direction of County Manager Hannes Zacharias, has been under development over the past four months.
In his annual budget message to the Board, Zacharias said the proposed FY 2013 Budget represents “the successful culmination of our organization’s efforts to navigate the recession and its aftermath without raising taxes” while “delivering the highest possible services to our citizens during these tough economic times.”
“This organization has been cutting budgets for the last several years with each succeeding year increasingly difficult even as the amount of reduction gets smaller,” Zacharias said.
Since 2009, the county has implemented $45 million in budget reductions, including planned cuts totaling $9.2 million in ongoing expenditures in 2013.
Of equal importance, he said the proposed budget has addressed the County’s structural deficit in its Five-Year Financial Forecast by reducing that deficit to $5.2 million in 2014 “putting the county in an extremely strong position moving forward.”
Getting to that point has not been easy.
Over the past few years, Johnson County has reduced its workforce without resorting to layoffs. In late 2011, more than 170 long-time employees, roughly 4.5 per cent of the workforce, accepted a voluntary early retirement incentive and left County Government within a span of one month.
The proposed FY 2013 Budget places the maximum number of FTE (full-time equivalent) employees at 3,844.91, a decrease of almost 57 FTEs from the FY 2012 Budget.
At the same time, scheduled merit raises for county employees were eliminated in 2009, halved in 2010, and postponed in 2011. The County Manager is recommending a 2.5 percent salary merit increase in his proposed FY 2013 Budget. The merit increase in 2012 was 1.5 percent.
“While the County has been extremely resourceful and diligent in its efforts, maintaining a constant mill levy has come at a price. County employees are shouldering a heavier load due to staff reductions and positions being held vacant,” Zacharias said.
“Despite the accomplishments of the past four years, the recession has taken a very real toll on the County’s workforce. My thanks go to our employees who show their commitment to public service each and every day.”
Other highlights of the proposed FY 2013 Budget include reserves of $146.4 million, compared to $128.6 million in FY 2012, and a Capital Improvement Program (CIP) totaling slightly more than $97.7 million, including:
Almost $54.3 million for wastewater projects;
Almost $12.7 million for the County Assistance Road System (CARS) program;
Almost $12 million for the county’s Stormwater Management Program;
Almost $2 million for bus replacement by the Transit Department;
$1.9 million for the county’s Bridge, Road, and Culvert Program; and,
$1.3 million for land acquisition and capital improvements by the Johnson County Park and Recreation District.
“The FY 2013 Budget reflects the Board’s direction to maintain a constant mill levy and to eliminate the County’s long-term structural deficit by FY 2014 while minimizing the impact to services,” Zacharias said in his concluding budget message to the BOCC.
“At the same time, the effects of a fourth consecutive year of significant budget reductions, the rising expectations of the community, and the growing volatility of the state’s budget as it relates to Johnson County indicate we will be faced with extremely difficult decisions in the coming years.”
What’s the bottom line: The amount of county tax (23.188 mills) on an average $238,000 residential property will be approximately $635, or approximately $52.92 per month, in 2013. The average residential value in 2012 was $242,000, with an estimated tax of $645 or $53.75 per month.
The estimated amount generated by one mill of property tax was placed at $7.31 million in the proposed FY 2013 Budget. The county’s property tax does not include other taxing entities, such as the State of Kansas, cities, and school districts.
Approximately 39 percent of the budget revenue (about $260 million) will come from taxes, including approximately $165.7 million from property taxes. Charges for services will provide about 26 percent (about $174.4 million) of the funding.
What’s next: The Board of County Commissioners will now review the budget proposal and meet with county departments and agencies in a series of work sessions from June 7-28.
The BOCC is scheduled to finalize the county’s FY 2013 Budget on July 5 for legal publication on July 10. Following legal publication, the county cannot, by law, increase the amount of the budgeted expenditures, but can decrease the amount of the operating budget or taxing level in final approval by the Board.
The public hearing on the new county budget will occur at 7 p.m. Monday, July 23, in the Board’s Hearing Room located on the third floor of the Johnson County Administration Building, 111 South Cherry Street, in downtown Olathe.
The BOCC is scheduled to adopt the budget resolution during its business session on Thursday, August 9, beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the Hearing Room. According to state statute, the county’s new budget must be approved and filed with the County Clerk by August 25.
Details about the FY 2013 Proposed Budget, the FY 2012 Budget, and budget process are available at the county’s main website at www.jocogov.org.
More information is available by contacting Johnson County Manager Hannes Zacharias at (913) 715-0731 or Hannes.Zacharias@jocogov.org or Scott Neufeld, Director of the Johnson County Department of Budget and Financial Planning, at (913) 715-0553 or Scott.Neufeld@jocogov.org.