Letter from Leadership
While we share other stories and achievements from last year in this first-ever digital Annual Report, a majority of the 2020 Annual Report takes us through the timeline of COVID-19 entering our community, and all of the measures taken proving that Johnson County truly is A Resilient Community (the theme of this report and this year’s State of the County). As we look back at 2020, we mourn lives lost, celebrate people who survived illness, and show gratitude for our community’s heroes who have been fighting the pandemic for more than a year.
Our response and recovery efforts involved many fronts in 2020. Our local Health Officer, director of Health and Environment and Board of Public Health issued several life-saving orders and declarations. We activated an Emergency Operations Center to manage this emergency, set up testing clinics, increased our disease investigation resources, and began the process of vaccinating our population.
We created a process to allocate and invest millions of dollars of federal CARES Act funding to our community. We established the COVID-19 dashboard to track and share necessary data on cases, test positivity rates, hospitalizations, deaths and other demographic information. We stayed connected and kept residents informed though virtual meetings and events, including townhall meetings, news conferences and, early on in the pandemic, more frequent meetings of the Board of County Commissioners.
COVID-19 required quick action regarding our 2020 budget, and almost immediately we began measuring the impact. Early estimates in April of revenue shortfalls for 2020 for our County Taxing District ranged from $18 to $38 million based on predicted impacts on our ad valorem, sales and use tax, and other revenue streams. We quickly, but strategically, achieved $25 million of expenditure reductions for 2020 with a hiring freeze (except for essential positions), ceasing nonessential spending, and tools such as furloughs, overtime reductions and capital project deferment.
We could not have achieved this without the community. 2020 was a year that relied on strong partnerships and constant collaboration with partners such as Johnson County cities and other metro area jurisdictions, chambers of commerce and our business community, school districts, health care, and many community organizations. Our ability to slow the spread of the pandemic would not be possible without them, nor our first responders, essential workers and especially our residents. All were important partners in being a resilient community.
Our employees stepped up to the challenge of the pandemic with dedication, passion and hard work. Johnson County Government employees in all departments, agencies and offices worked tirelessly in 2020 to help protect the community from COVID-19. They found new and innovative ways to continue providing services and programs safely, put in long hours and performed complex and sometimes life-saving work. Some were reassigned or volunteered to work in another role, learning and performing entirely different jobs when help was needed.
Despite COVID-19, we made great progress on several major capital projects. Our new Johnson County Courthouse opened up just as we moved into 2021. We opened our Medical Examiner Facility and also made progress on several Johnson County Park and Recreation District projects.
To everyone who played a role in making Johnson County not only a place where people want to live, work and raise a family, but to making us A Resilient Community, we say thank you.
Chairman, Board of County Commissioners
Penny Postoak Ferguson