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johnson county government

The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) is responsible for enacting legislation, levying and appropriating taxes and setting budgets, and Johnson County residents are strongly encouraged to engage with county government and have their voices heard. Weekly BOCC meetings are open to the public and streamed online. Many of our departments and agencies have advisory boards that depend on citizen participation. Johnson County residents who are registered to vote elect the BOCC members, District Attorney and Sheriff, so the more you know, the more empowered your vote. This is a great place to get educated and start engaging.

Government News

Chairman Eilert gives 2015 State of the County

Ed Eilert, chairman of the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners, presented his 2015 State of the County Address today. Nearly 650 people gathered at the Ritz Charles in Overland Park for the annual luncheon and address. The Johnson County Public Policy Council co-sponsors the event, and it was hosted by the Lenexa Chamber of Commerce.

The news release and the full address are both available in our media room. We also have posted the video of Chairman Eilert's address on our YouTube channel.

You can also view the videos shown at the State of the County:

Chairman Eilert showcases Johnson County Community College
The BOCC highlights workforce development programs at our public schools

BOCC approves Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center

Two Board of County Commission votes today paved the way for the new Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center (JCAHC), which will open in 2017. It will serve as the new home for the Johnson County Museum, an indoor theatre for The Theatre in the Park’s off-season productions, and space for expanded arts programming provided by the Johnson County Park & Recreation District (JCPRD).

First, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) voted to establish a capital project to renovate the former King Louie building at 8788 Metcalf in Overland Park for use as the new JCAHC. The project was approved by a majority vote with three commissioners voting in opposition.

Second, the BOCC, operating as the Public Building Commission (PBC), adopted a resolution to issue lease purchase revenue bonds in the amount of $21,960,000 to pay for the renovation and refunding of the short term loans to purchase and affect initial repairs to the building.

Plans for the Arts and Heritage Center

  • The Johnson County Museum, currently located in a 1927 structure with numerous additions that suffers from water infiltration and other inadequacies, will move into the lower level of the center.
  • A flex theater, along with rehearsal space and a workshop, will be the new off-season (spring, fall and winter) home for The Theatre in the Park. Those spaces will be available for other performing arts organizations and others to use when The Theatre in the Park is not using them.
  • Space will be designated for advance voting and election worker training.
  • Event space, including an outdoor patio area and catering kitchen, will be available for community rentals.
  • More classroom space will be available for JCPRD classes, programs and camps that focus on dance, music and the arts.

“This project solves problems Johnson County has been facing for many years,” said County Manager Hannes Zacharias. “The main driver for the purchase of this iconic building is to provide an appropriate home for the Johnson County Museum. We are pleased to be able to also offer Johnson County residents more opportunities to create and consume art, provide a permanent home for advance voting on the Metcalf corridor, and continue to build a community where people want to live, visit, and work.”

Financing the project

The PBC approved lease purchase revenue bonds in the amount of $21,960,000 which will cover:

  • $18,630,000 for capital expenditures to renovate, equip and furnish the building.
  • $2,900,000 to pay off the outstanding balance on the purchase and initial renovations of the building to prevent additional weather damage.
  • $430,000 in costs associated with the issuance of the debt.

The next step in the process will be a public hearing on the issuance of bonds on April 16 at 10:30 a.m. in the Board of County Commission Chambers (111 S. Cherry St., Olathe).

Operating the facility

In 2017, the first full year the JCAHC is open, its operational costs will be $570,000 (building, operations and maintenance, utilities, grounds and custodial). Both the JCPRD board and the BOCC have approved a concept to consolidate the Museum staff with Park and Recreation District staff. Staff will develop the consolidation agreement that will ultimately be voted on by the BOCC and the JCPRD Board.

More information about the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center can be found here>

Sharon Watson named Director of Public Affairs and Communications

Johnson County Government’s new Director of Public Affairs and Communications, Sharon Watson, brings nearly 25 years of experience in governmental public affairs and communications, crisis communications and journalism (including broadcast and print reporting in the Kansas City metro). Watson joined the County Manager’s Office as Director of Public Affairs and Communications on February 2, 2015.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve Johnson County,” Watson said. “I look forward to using my experience in government service in this wonderful community where I’ve lived for nearly 20 years.”

Most recently Watson spent eight years as the Public Affairs Director for the Kansas Adjutant General's Department, serving as the department spokesperson and overseeing all media relations for the Kansas National Guard, Kansas Division of Emergency Management and Kansas Homeland Security. She managed the state Joint Information Center during emergencies and conducted media/crisis communication training for local and state officials and National Guard public affairs officers.

Prior to that, Watson worked as Communications Director for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for five years. There, she handled a number of crisis communication issues including the emergence of West Nile Virus in the U.S. and Kansas, and plans for public smallpox vaccinations, as well as controversial state environmental issues.

Watson began her career in journalism. Her experience in the Kansas City metro includes news anchoring and reporting at WDAF-AM and KMBZ-AM radio stations and writing for the Olathe Daily News. Her journalism career also includes work in the Topeka, Springfield, Mo. and Cape Girardeau, Mo./Paducah, Ky. markets.

“We are so pleased to bring someone into this position that possesses such a wealth of communications, public affairs and media experience that will benefit not only our organization, but all of the residents of Johnson County,” said County Manager Hannes Zacharias. “Sharon has an impressive amount of expertise in the crisis communications arena, so much so that she teaches seminars in crisis communications and disaster response all over the country.”

Watson has a bachelor’s degree from William Jewell College with a double major in Communications and Public Relations. Watson completed a master’s degree in Homeland Security through the Naval Post Graduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security in Monterey, Calif. in March 2012. Sharon currently serves as the Region VII Director for the National Association of Public Information Officers. She served as the co-chair of the Regional Association of Public Information Officers in the Kansas City metro and as president of the Kansas Association of Public Information Officers from 2013-14.

Happy Kansas Day!

Kansas Day is celebrated annually on January 29 to commemorate the anniversary of the 1861 admission of Kansas into the Union. Kansas Day is not a public holiday, but it is a state-wide observation. It was first celebrated in 1877 by schoolchildren in Paola.

Annual Kansas Day celebrations include school field trips and special projects to study the history of Kansas, special visits by students to the Statehouse in Topeka, performances of Home on the Range, the Kansas State Song, and special proclamations by the Governor of Kansas and members of the Kansas Legislature.

Today Kansas is 154 years old (Johnson County was founded six years earlier, on August 25, 1855).

Former Sprint, HCA Midwest Health exec joins JoCo

Brad Reinhardt has been selected as Johnson County's new Director of Facilities Management.

Most recently, Reinhardt spent five of his 15 years at Sprint as the Real Estate Manager of National Facilities Management, overseeing facility management services for a national portfolio of commercial, retail and technical facilities. His career experience prior to Sprint included Director of Engineering/Plant Operations for HCA Midwest Health, and prior to that, a combined 15 years as a consulting engineer with Henderson Engineers, Inc. and Black & Veatch.

He received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Kansas State University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Kansas. A long-time resident of Johnson County, Reinhardt is a member of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers and spent three years on the Blue Valley School District Facilities Planning Committee.

More information is available here.

County offices closed Jan. 19 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Johnson County Government offices will be closed on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015. Offices will be open for business again on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015.

Commissioner Allen named 2015 BOCC Vice Chair

The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) elected Commissioner Jim Allen as vice chairman for 2015. The vice chairman assumes and performs the duties of Chairman Ed Eilert whenever he is unavailable and because of temporary absence or disability. Allen was the only Board member nominated for vice chairman. The nomination was approved by unanimous vote with Allen abstaining.

Allen was first elected as the Second District representative to the BOCC in November 2008. He’s currently serving his second term representing the upper north-central sector of Johnson County, which includes Shawnee, where he was born. Allen served as the Mayor of Shawnee from 1993-2004. His full bio is available here.

More information is available by contacting Commissioner Jim Allen at 913-715-0432 or jim.allen@jocogov.org.

County wins 27th consecutive financial reporting award

2015 marks the 27th year that Johnson County Treasury and Financial Management (TFM) Department has received national recognition for its accounting and financial reporting.  The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) of the United States and Canada recently awarded Johnson County Government the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting award for TFM’s easy-to-read and efficiently organized 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

“This is a very rare distinction for a county government to earn, especially in our state,” said Thomas Franzen, Finance Director and Treasurer, Johnson County Government. “Last year only three Kansas counties, along with 25 other municipalities, won the award for their 2012 CAFRs. Nationally, only 494 (or 16%) of the 3,007 counties in the United States earned this achievement.”

The county’s 2013 CAFR was judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, including demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR.

The GFOA is a nonprofit professional association serving approximately 17,500 government finance professionals with offices in Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Collaboration between departments solves two needs

Johnson County’s Records & Tax Administration (RTA), who among other things manages the County’s Archives, is required to perform document destruction when the retention period on County records (dictated by state statute) expires.

Johnson County Developmental Supports (JCDS) has a relatively new document destruction business, and is always in need of contracts to keep its workforce of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities productive and earning wages.

RTA has given JCDS its first assignment…shredding 50 pallets of documents during the month of January 2015. These pictures tell the story of this successful collaboration.

Hotline starts with opening of legislative session

Johnson County Government again will offer a toll-free hotline to the Kansas Legislature during the 2015 session.

By dialing the county’s main switchboard at 913-715-5000, callers can be connected to the Kansas Governor’s staff and to the offices of members of Johnson County’s legislative delegation in both the State House of Representatives and the Senate.

The hotline only operates during the legislative session — from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

Another toll-free hotline is offered by the Legislative Reference Section of the Kansas State Library, provides access to state legislative activity, messages to legislators, status of bills, voting records, and other important documents and information. That number is 1-800-432-3924.

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