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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

2017 State of the County address set for March 28

Don't miss Chairman Eilert's 2017 State of the County address on Tuesday, March 28, at the Ritz Charles in Overland Park. Register for tickets to the speech from the Shawnee Chamber of Commerce. Registration ends Tuesday, March 21.

Appraised property value appeals due March 29

The deadline for Johnson County property owners to appeal their appraised property values is March 29 for residential property.

“We encourage residents and business owners to review their appraised values closely and if they have information that would assist in better determining the value of their home or business, to please contact our office before the deadlines,” said Johnson County Appraiser Paul Welcome. 

The Appraiser’s Office has a team of individuals available to answer resident’s questions to help them to determine whether to file an appeal. The number to call is 913-715-9000.

Approximately 40 to 50 percent of those property owners who file an appeal will see a reduction in the appraised value. The reduced amount will vary for each of those appeals.

“We have extensive information on our website allowing residents to compare sales of homes nearby for a comprehensive look at how the Appraiser’s Office determined their property’s appraised value,” Welcome said.

Property owners are encouraged to go to Appraiser’s Office website for detailed information and a video on the process.  Online, residents may verify the accuracy of the information the county has on file about a specific property (under the Property Data tab). Within the property’s summary, residents will have the opportunity to see what nearby homes in an area sold for which is used to determine the appraised value of the home. The assessed value is a percentage of the appraised value, which determines the specific amount of taxes that must be paid for the specific property. 

The appraisal process is conducted each year by the county under the direction of the state appraiser and in accordance with Kansas law. March 15 was the appeals deadline for commercial property.

The amount residents pay in taxes is set by local and state government, schools and other taxing districts. The mill levy for Johnson County remains the lowest in the state of Kansas. The county (including libraries and parks) only receives approximately 18 percent of all taxes collected. Schools receive more than 50 percent of the tax payment, with the additional funds going to the city or township, special districts (where the property is located) and the remainder to the state of Kansas. 

Veterans Treatment Court honors first graduate

In January 2016, Johnson County District Court held the first Veterans Treatment Court in the state of Kansas. It’s mission — to identify veterans in the criminal justice system and, when eligible, to place them into treatment and court supervision as an alternative to incarceration. Today Johnson County Veterans Treatment Court honored its first graduate from the program. District Court Judge Timothy P. McCarthy, who spearheaded the effort to bring VTC to the county, will presided over the graduation ceremony Feb. 15 at the Johnson County Courthouse.

VTC offers two alternatives to jail time: a diversion track through the Johnson County District Attorney’s office and a probation track through Johnson County Court Services. Both programs allow eligible veterans to voluntarily participate in a 12- to 18-month program composed of court appearances, drug and alcohol testing, treatment, recovery support meetings and a mentorship program.

VTC aims to help veterans who may be suffering from traumatic brain injuries, depression, substance abuse or post-traumatic stress disorder because of their military service. Any eligible veteran can apply to the VTC program. To be eligible, you must be a Kansas resident and eligible for Veterans Affairs benefits or a resident of the county (for Mental Health Center services). Veterans charged with low-level felony or misdemeanor offenses such as DUIs, drug-related charges or domestic violence charges will be considered for the program.

VTC is a collaboration between Johnson County’s Sheriff’s Office, Mental Health Center, District Court, Veterans Administration and the county’s Justice Information Management System.

In 2008, Judge Robert Russell in Buffalo, New York, began the first docket dedicated to veterans after he saw an increase in the number of veterans appearing on his drug and mental health court dockets. Today, more than 250 treatment courts in 40 states offer services to military veterans. VTC programs in Missouri are available in Jackson and Clay counties and the city of Kansas City.

County's 2017 budget book is available online

The 2017 budget book for Johnson County is completed and available online. The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners adopted the FY 2017 budget for Johnson County on August 11, 2016.

The total county budget of $944 million is composed of $338 million in county general services expenditures. The remaining $606 million are expenditures for Wastewater, Park & Recreation, Library, Airport and various other fee- and grant-funded services as well as transfers between departments and reserves. 

The total budget reserves are $209.1 million with county general fund reserves estimated at $71.2 million, or approximately 23 percent, which helps the county maintain its Triple-A credit rating by the nation’s top three bond rating companies.

The final setting of the FY 2017 mill levy was established in October with the latest property valuations by the Department of Records and Tax Administration.

FY 2017’s levy for Johnson County Government involves the county’s three taxing districts: County, Library and Park and Recreation. It includes 19.582 mills for the County Taxing District, 3.912 mills for the Johnson County Library Taxing District and 3.101 mills for the county Park and Recreation Taxing District.

The county was able to maintain a flat mill levy despite several revenue impacts from the state and Johnson County continues to have the lowest county mill levy in Kansas. One mill equals $1 on every $1,000 of a homeowner’s assessed valuation.

There's help available for filing taxes

Tax season is here, and it can be a stressful time for many residents. If you’re in need of tax filing assistance, Johnson County offers a few services.

Tax forms

The county will gladly help you print any form at any location for 15 cents per page. The Central Resource Library has a limited supply of federal paper tax forms. Visit jocolibrary.org for more information.

Tax assistance

  • AARP Tax-Aide volunteers: Get help preparing individual tax returns for middle- and low-income residents at our Central Resource Library. Make your appointment online at kstaxaide.com.
  • Johnson County’s K-State Research and Extension office is partnering with Next Step KC (formerly known as KC Cash) and El Centro to host a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site from Feb. 1 to April 15.

VITA sites provide safe, accessible locations for taxpayers to get help to prepare their state and federal income tax returns. There is no charge to have returns completed and e-filed. Residents who earned a maximum household income up to $54,000 are eligible for this service.

The county’s VITA site is in the Sunset Drive Office Building, 11811 S. Sunset Dr. in Olathe. It is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Call the county extension office at 913-715-7000 or visit johnson.ksu.edu for more information.

Avoid tax season anxiety. Let Johnson County help you file your income taxes this year.

County management appoints MED-ACT director

Johnson County Government has named Paul Davis as the director of Emergency Medical Services. He will begin his new role Jan. 16, 2017.

Prior to joining the county, Davis served since May 2006 as executive director of Adams County, Illinois, Ambulance and Emergency Medical Services, where he spent 14 years as a dispatcher, paramedic and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).

Davis’ professional affiliations include service as an officer of the executive board of the Illinois State Ambulance Association and president of the Adams County EMT and Paramedic Association. He holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Hannibal-LaGrange University.

Davis replaces Ted McFarlane who retired in August as MED-ACT director after serving the county 15 years.

Johnson County MED-ACT is the emergency medical services department that responds to all county 911 emergency calls. The department serves more than 560,000 citizens across 473 square miles.

A 'Gold Star' plan

During a check presentation ceremony Nov. 18, Olathe Mayor Michael Copeland accepted a $5,000 donation for a planned Gold Star Families Memorial.

It’s the first donation and officials hope many more will support raising $40,000 for the monument to be placed at the city’s Veterans Memorial Park at Dennis Ave. and Harrison St.  

The Gold Star monument will honor the families of Johnson County servicemen and women killed during active military duty. Johnson County has lost 156 soldiers during military service, with generations of Gold Star families surviving since World War I.

The check donation was presented by Hershel “Woody” Williams, who established the Medal of Honor Foundation in 2012 with the goal to dedicate Gold Star Families Memorial monuments throughout the country to honor the families of fallen members of the armed forces. 

There are more than 14 completed Gold Star monuments in the U.S. and 38 are in progress. Olathe’s memorial would be the first project in the state of Kansas designed by the Hershel Woody Foundation.

Donations are being handled by the Olathe Parks and Recreation Foundation. Donors can call 913-971-8555 for more information.       

Voters approve funding for new courthouse & coroner facility

On Tuesday, Nov. 8, Johnson County voters approved a quarter-cent public safety sales tax to fund a new county courthouse and coroner facility. The county leadership has studied courthouse options over the past 15 years with recommendations for a new courthouse from numerous consultants, professional staff and citizen advisory groups. Funding the large project prevented the county from moving forward until now. Johnson County does not currently have a coroner facility; it uses a private lab in Wyandotte County. The public safety sales tax approved on Tuesday makes way for the construction of both projects in the next few years.

This public safety sales tax funding will be collected starting in April 2017 and ending in 2027. The courthouse design is expected to begin in 2017 with completion in about four years. Staff is currently developing a timeline for the construction of a coroner facility. Next steps include the Board of County Commissioners amending the county's Capital Improvement Program to include the courthouse and coroner facility projects. Following that action, the Public Building Commission can approve the projects and sell bonds.

The Kansas City Star published an article online about the public safety sales tax issue, along with the Board of County Commissioners election information.

Learn about Gold Star Families Monument initiative

Johnson County's 30th annual Veterans Day observance will also be an opportunity to break ground for a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, designed by the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation based in Huntington, West Va.

A Marine veteran, Williams is the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima. His goal, through the foundation, is to erect at least one Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in every state. There are 12 finished Gold Star monuments in the nation with 40 projects in progress in 28 states. There is no project currently in the works in Kansas.

The foundation provides communities with a design for the Gold Star monuments. Each of the monuments are made of black granite or marble, have a gold star, a portion cut out to look like a missing solder and is engraved with: “A tribute to Mothers and Fathers and Gold Star families who sacrificed a loved one for our freedom.” It is roughly 15 feet in length, 6 feet in height, and a foot in width. The monument design can be viewed on the Williams’ foundation website.

Organizers of the Gold Star project have launched a campaign to raise at least $40,000 for the monument to be placed in Veterans Memorial Park, which is managed by the city of Olathe. Donations for the Gold Star monument are being handled by the Olathe Parks and Recreation Foundation, a 501c(3) organization. The foundation can be contacted at 913-971-8555. 

Total cost estimate for the monument is $45,000. The Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation contributes $5,000 toward local monument projects. Williams plans to visit Olathe on Nov. 18 to make the donation.

Major contributors toward the project will be listed at the monument site. As soon as funding is achieved, project organizers hope to install the monument in early 2017 and dedicate it on or near Memorial Day.

Johnson County’s annual Veterans Day observance began in 1987 with a public celebration on the south steps of the Johnson County Courthouse before moving to the Kansas National Guard Armory in Olathe from 1995 to 2006.

Since 2007, the county event has occurred at veteran memorial sites throughout Johnson County, including the cities of Overland Park, Merriam, Gardner and the New Century AirCenter near Gardner. 

Public safety sales tax is on the General Election ballot

On the General Election ballot, there is a 1/4-cent, 10-year public safety sales tax question to fund a proposed new Johnson County Courthouse and coroner facility. It is the last item on the ballot. Here are some ways you can learn more about the proposed sales tax:

Tour the courthouse: There's one more opportunity to tour the county courthouse, 5 or 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 1. Please RSVP at 913-715-3300 and call 913-715-0725 at least 48 hours in advance if you require special accommodations. The courthouse is located at 100 N. Kansas Avenue in Olathe.

Visit JoCoPublicSafety.org: Read all about the public safety sales tax, including answers to frequently asked questions.

Read JoCo Magazine: You recently received the Fall 2016 issue of JoCo Magazine, a special issue dedicated entirely to public safety, in your mailbox. Or you can read the issue on the county's website at jocogov.org/jocomag.

Watch television interviews:

  • Board Chairman Ed Eilert and District Attorney Steve Howe discussed the public safety sales tax on KCPT's Ruckus program on Oct. 13.
  • Board Chairman Ed Eilert will discuss the ballot initiative on KCPT's Kansas City Week in Review Friday, Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m. Watch the episode live on channel 19.1 HD or on KCPT's website after it airs.

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