Powers and Duties of the Board of County Commissioners

Pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 19 of the Kansas Statutes Annotated and in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations, and under the authority of the Home Rule Charter of Johnson County, the legislative and policy-determinant powers of the county government are vested in the seven-member Board of County Commissioners.

The board has exclusive power to:

  • Enact, amend and repeal local legislation within the jurisdiction of the county
  • Levy and apportion taxes, to make appropriations and to adopt budgets
  • Establish strategic plans that guide organizational development and performance
  • Appoint certain offices, boards and commissions

Administration Oversight

The BOCC monitors the execution and implementation of its policies and directives through the various county agencies and departments.

Oversight refers to the function of reviewing, monitoring and supervising organizational performance by and through the county manager and the agencies and departments within the administrative structure of county government. It is the mechanism through which the board:

  • Monitors the execution and implementation of its policies and directives
  • Ascertains that budgeted funds are used according to established policy
  • Provides direction in accordance with its strategic plan

As an outgrowth of this function, the board:

  • Improves the efficiency, economy and effectiveness of governmental operations
  • Reviews policy proposals affecting the services and programs of Johnson County Government
  • Checks the administration by monitoring and evaluating the performance of agencies and departments and ensuring compliance with original legislative or policy intent
  • Informs the general public about available services and ensures that administrative policies reflect the interests of the community
  • Conducts studies or undertakes investigations deemed to be in the best interests of the community

Citizen Representation

First and foremost, county commissioners are elected representatives of the community; in particular, the residents of their districts. Consequently, members spend a great deal of time and energy responding to the myriad requests they receive for assistance or information.

Interacting with citizens, soliciting public opinion on various issues, attending community meetings, facilitating access to government agencies and departments – this is just a small sample of the types of activities that members undertake on behalf of their constituents. These types of activities are generally referred to as "constituent services," a generic term that is used to encompass a wide range activities intended to assist citizens with their interactions with and connection to county government.

Members are supported in these efforts by the constituent services team, which is charged with providing convenient, timely and accurate responses to all citizen inquiries or requests so that people receive the information or services they need in a timely and professional manner.

Citizen Services

Citizen services receives and responds to public requests for information or assistance and facilitates access to community resources through timely referrals to appropriate service providers. It also networks with social services agencies, businesses and private sector interests, nonprofit agencies and civic groups to promote civic engagement initiatives. The goal of citizen services is to ensure that county government remains accessible and responsive to all citizens.

Legislative Authority

Johnson County is a body created and existing under the constitution and laws of the State of Kansas, and is endowed with the rights and powers of a municipal government. As a municipality, Johnson County possesses the right of self-government through the exercise of home rule authority and, except as expressly limited by state statute, the Board of County Commissioners has and exercises the powers, authorities and duties provided under K.S.A. 19-101, 19-101a and 19-212, and other statutory provisions.

To promote the effective administration of government services, the board has the authority to:

  • Adopt resolutions, policies, directives, rules and regulations deemed necessary and advisable to provide for the effective administration of government services.
  • Provide for the administrative structure of the county government by creating, organizing, altering, merging or abolishing offices, agencies, departments, divisions or other functional units deemed advisable to implement and administer the policies, regulations and laws for the county.
  • Apportion and order the levying of taxes, make appropriations, adopt budgets and incur indebtedness for the purpose of carrying out the duties conferred or imposed upon county government.
  • Fix and collect charges and fees for services performed and require licenses and permits when necessary in the enforcement of regulations and fix the amount thereof.
  • Examine and settle the accounts and expenses of the county government and issue county orders for all accounts chargeable against the county.
  • Establish land use policies and zoning regulations and codes and provide for the enforcement of the same.
  • Superintend the property and facilities belonging to the county government and construct, improve and maintain the community’s infrastructure grid and various infrastructure components.
  • Provide or contract for the protection and promotion of the general public health and welfare of the community.
  • Appoint members of various subordinate boards and commissions attached to or affiliated with the agencies and departments of the county government.

Fiscal Management

The BOCC is the final authority on spending by county agencies and departments, and the budget is the centerpiece of its local policymaking authority. Through the budget, priorities are established, resources are allocated and the policy agenda for the ensuing year is determined.

Johnson County's fiscal year runs concurrent with the calendar year. Under the provisions of the Home Rule Charter, the county manager is responsible for preparing and presenting the annual operating and five-year capital budgets, which are submitted for an extensive review before final consideration by the board.

Land Use and Zoning

The BOCC guides future growth and development to ensure the most beneficial and coherent relationships among the residential, commercial and nonresidential, and public areas of the community. The board's authority includes the power to:

  • Create or adopt master plans for development
  • Review and approve specific land use issues
  • Approve requested zoning changes
  • Dispose of property owned by the county government

This authority gives the BOCC its most significant voice in the ultimate growth and development of the entire Johnson County community.

The Johnson County Planning Commission is the principal advisory body to the BOCC on issues related to growth and development. Its responsibilities include the preparation of the Rural Comprehensive Plan as well as special area plans and projects. The Rural Comprehensive Plan provides for the physical development of the county and outlines criteria under which specific master plans, development proposals and zoning regulations are considered, approved and enforced. As well, the planning commission provides recommendations for changes to the Zoning and Subdivision Regulations. The members of the Planning Commission are appointed by the BOCC and serve terms of three years.

The board is also assisted in the exercise of its land use and zoning authority by five township zoning boards. The township zoning boards provide even more local control over growth and development by incorporating the advice and recommendations of citizens from specific townships and surrounding areas.

The Township Zoning Board

These members are responsible for reviewing all applications for:

  • Zoning, land use and development within their respective jurisdictions
  • Conducting public hearings
  • Providing recommendations on each application to the BOCC

Both the planning commission and the township zoning boards serve in an advisory capacity to the BOCC. Ultimately, the BOCC must approve and authorize the implementation of the recommendations and advice provided by either the planning commission or the township zoning boards, and must also resolve any disputes between the planning commission, the township zoning boards and citizens.

Other Capacities

Pursuant to certain statutory provisions and requirements, and under the county charter resolution, the BOCC - in addition to its role as the legislative and policy-determinant body of the County Government - is designated to act and perform in a variety of other capacities; specifically, as the:

Fire District No. 2

Fire District No. 2

Board of Directors of the Wastewater Districts

Pursuant to Article I, Section 4, of Charter Resolution No. 029-92, the BOCC serves as the governing body of any and all sewer districts created within Johnson County. The Wastewater Board of Directors does not meet outside the regular session schedule established for the BOCC. Instead, the board of directors meets concurrently with the BOCC, and agenda items are taken up and considered on a single agenda. Policy enactments are executed in the name of the BOCC. Records of actions or decisions by the board of directors are filed with those of the BOCC.

Board of Election Canvassers

Pursuant to the provisions of K.S.A. 25-3101, et seq., the BOCC is, ex officio, the Board of Election Canvassers. The Board of Election Canvassers is required to review (canvass) and certify the results of the following elections conducted in the county; to-wit:

  • Primary and general national and state elections
  • Primary and general county elections
  • Primary and general township elections
  • Primary and general city elections
  • Primary and general school district elections
  • Any ballot question submitted affecting the state, the county or any township
  • Any ballot question submitted affecting any city in the county
  • Any ballot question submitted affecting a school district within the county
  • Any election where the law provides that the BOCC shall be the Board of Canvassers

The Election commissioner is the recording officer of the Board of Election Canvassers and is responsible for maintaining permanent records of its proceedings and its orders and judgments.

Alternates are routinely selected from among staff to serve in the absence of any election of the board of canvassers; provided, the selected alternate must be a resident of Johnson County who is qualified to vote. The board of canvassers, at its discretion, may designate alternates to serve in the absence of any member.

All canvasses are conducted at the office of the election commissioner and are held on the Monday immediately following the election, between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., but most typically at 9 a.m.

Board of Fence Viewers

Pursuant to the provisions of K.S.A. 209-201, et seq., the BOCC serves as the Board of Fence Viewers and performs those duties required by law. When judgments are required, a separate session is scheduled, typically following the regular, weekly meeting of the BOCC. The proceedings of the Board of Fence Viewers are kept separate from those of the BOCC.

Board of Public Health

Pursuant to the provision of K.S.A. 65-201, et seq., the BOCC is charged with ensuring the general health of the public and broad welfare of the community.

The Board of Health is required to appoint a person who is licensed to practice medicine and surgery, with a preference for those with training in public health, to serve in an advisory capacity as the local health officer. The local health officer is housed in the Johnson County Department of Public Health.

The Board of Public Health typically does not meet outside the regular session schedule established for the BOCC. Instead, the Board of Public Health meets concurrently with the BOCC, and agenda items are taken up and considered on a single agenda. Policy enactments are executed in the name of the BOCC.

Records of the Board of Public Health are filed with those of the BOCC.

Public Building Commission

Pursuant to the provisions of K.S.A. 12-1757, et seq., and in accordance with Resolution No. 047-90, the BOCC sits in a separate legal capacity as the Public Building Commission of Johnson County, which is recognized as being a municipal corporation. The building commission has authority to do all things that are necessary or incidental to construct, acquire or enlarge; furnish and equip; and operate and maintain buildings for governmental use.

Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the building commission has the power and authority to:

  • Negotiate leases for buildings which are proposed to be acquired or constructed with the county, or with one or more additional public bodies
  • Issue and refund revenue bonds in accordance with state law
  • Establish and collect rents, fees and charges for use of public facilities it owns in amounts sufficient to pay the maintenance and operation costs, the principal and interest on revenue bonds, and to make all payments to any accounts created by any bond resolution
  • Rent all or any part of its buildings or other facilities to any federal, state or local government agency, any municipal corporation or quasi-municipal corporation, a political subdivision, or body politic, or an agency thereof
  • Acquire fee simple title to real property, including easements and reversionary interests in the streets, alleys and other public spaces, and any personal property required for its purposes.

Under its bylaws, the building commission meets in regular session each year on the first Thursday in the months of February and August. Special meetings may be called in addition to these two regular meetings. The chairman and vice chairman of the BOCC serve, ex officio, as the chairman and vice chairman of the building commission. At its first regular meeting each year, the building commission also elects from among its membership a secretary, who typically serves a single-year term, and is responsible for authenticating orders made by the building commission and attesting the signature of its chairman when required, under the corporate seal of the building commission. The clerk of the BOCC serves, ex officio, as recording secretary and preserves official records of its proceedings.