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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

Wastewater, Sheriff’s Office among current budget discussions

The Board of County Commissioners on Thursday heard budget proposals for FY 2018 from leadership at Wastewater, Sheriff’s Office, Elections, Library and Park & Recreation.

Wastewater

Wastewater leaders are recommending lowering the 2018 rate increase from 7.5 percent to 7 percent. Based on financial analysis by Burns & McDonnell, the median residential bill would increase $2.31 per month in 2018.  The company’s analysis also finds that JCW’s typical monthly bills are among the lowest in the region when looking at median residential usage.

The budget includes several requests for additional resources: $4.9 million for an inter-local agreement with Kansas City, Missouri; $155,000 for trash and sludge removal; $100,000 for billing software upgrades; $216,000 for plan review; and $77.4 million for Wastewater capital projects (self-funded by capital finance charges and bond proceeds).

Sheriff’s Office

The Sheriff’s Office budget proposal includes two requests for additional resources: $676,900 for contractual and commodity increases and $926,000 for a vehicle storage facility, with $80.4 million for 2018’s total published budget excluding risk management. The proposal includes 651.95 full-time equivalent employees and $75.3 million in budgeted tax support.

Sheriff Cal Hayden reported that his office has filled 37 out of 60 open positions recently with the assistance of the county’s human resource partners. His goal is for the office to be fully staffed by the end of 2017.

Election Office

The Election Office’s budget proposal includes five requests for additional resources: $1.3 million for the 2018 gubernatorial election; $50,000 for the election worker training facility; $164,000 for advance voting postcards (not currently funded in the FY 2018 budget); $12,500 for an election center professional education program; and $13.1 million for next-generation voting machines.

The total published Election Office budget is $4 million, excluding cost allocation, risk management and vehicle equivalent units, with $3.41 million in budgeted tax support and 17 full-time equivalent employees.

Library

The Library’s FY 2018 proposal includes a $36.02 million total published budget — excluding risk management, with $34.49 million in budgeted tax support and 306.68 full-time equivalent employees.

The 2018 requests for additional resources include four items: $642,212 for nine full-time positions to provide branch and system-wide support; $1.14 million for a capital replacement plan; $285,000 for materials handling sorters; and $1.8 million for the comprehensive library master plan to fund future projects.

The Library’s current mill rate is 3.915, and the 2018 proposed budget includes debt service for the Monticello Library and the new Lenexa City Center location, as well as full-time positions and operating costs for opening Monticello in FY 2018.

In 2016 the Board of County Commissioners increased the library mill an additional 0.75 mills to renovate, replace, expand and build facilities based on the library’s comprehensive master plan.

Park & Recreation

The 2018 proposed JCPRD budget maintains a flat mill levy at 3.102 mills, with $36.7 million as the total published budget — $33.2 million in budgeted tax support and 143.33 in budgeted full-time positions.

Park & Recreation’s 2018 proposal includes $14.8 million for its capital improvement plan, continuing implementation of JCPRD’s legacy plan and development of new parks (Meadowbrook, Big Bull Creek and Cedar Niles) and trails (Coffee Creek, Kill Creek and Cedar Creek).

JCPRD’s requests for additional resources include positions for park managers and workers, a natural resources technician, a performing arts administrative assistant, a recreation coordinator and an aquatic stadium facility maintenance supervisor.

The 2018 JCPRD proposal includes minimal land acquisition.

Learn more online

Next week, the Board of County Commissioners will meet Monday and Wednesday to consider the final 2018 budget proposal. Budget meetings are broadcast on the county's website and more information about the proposed FY 2018 budget is available online.

Proposed 2018 budget creates potential to roll back mill levy

County manager Hannes Zacharias has proposed a budget for next year with the potential to roll back the mill levy by a quarter mill. 

“Current revenue projections support a strong county budget,” Zacharias said. “Our proposal meets the needs of a growing community and adequately compensates staff. The budget adheres to the board’s direction to maintain a constant mill levy and creates a potential opportunity to return resources back to the taxpayers of Johnson County.”

Johnson County’s proposed FY 2018 budget totals $1.06 billion, composed of $820.1 million in expenditures and $243 million in reserves. The proposed budget maintains existing services and general fund reserves, supports health care increases and meets growing service demands.

The county manager noted in his budget message that if the local economy and revenue projections hold steady, and the state budget is finalized without significant negative impact to the county, the FY 2018 budget would provide sufficient funding to allow county leadership to roll the mill levy back by a quarter mill and therefore reduce property taxes.

The proposal holds the county’s current taxing levy steady at 19.59 mills — still the lowest mill levy in Kansas, with 3.915 mills for the library district and 3.102 mills for the park and recreation district.

The 2018 budget proposal includes a Capital Improvement Program (CIP) totaling more than $159 million. CIP highlights include:

  • $77.4 million for Wastewater’s capital projects;
  • $15 million for the Stormwater Management Program;
  • $14.9 million for the County Assistance Road System (CARS) program;
  • $14.8 million for Park and Recreation District’s capital projects.

The budget proposal funds a maximum 3,950.72 of full-time-equivalent employees, including an increase of 63.73 FTEs from the FY 2017 budget (eight of which would be funded by county taxes). The budget also allocates funds for a 3 percent merit increase pool for employees who meet performance goals.

“While Johnson County’s economy is strong and growing, both caution and optimism are in order,” Zacharias said. “The nation’s economy is currently enjoying the fourth-longest period of economic recovery in U.S. history, and a slow-down is likely imminent. The extent to which an economic downturn may affect Johnson County is difficult to predict. We stand ready, however, to continue to provide the necessary services our residents expect and deserve.”

Budget timeline

  • From May 4 to May 23, the Board of County Commissioners will conduct study sessions to review FY 2018 budget proposals with county agencies and departments.
  • The board is scheduled to set the FY 2018 maximum expenditure budget on June 15 for newspaper publication. Following legal publication, the county cannot, by law, increase the amount of budgeted expenditures, but can decrease the amount of the operating budget or taxing level with final board approval.
  • The public hearing for the FY 2018 proposed budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 31.
  • The board is scheduled to adopt the 2018 budget resolution during its business session on Aug. 10. According to state statute, the county’s new budget must be approved and filed with the county clerk by Aug. 25.
Leadership appoints assistant to the county manager

Cindy Green has been named assistant to the county manager and chief of staff, effective May 15. In this role, Green will be responsible for the administrative and budgetary functions of the county manager’s office. She will also act as the principal strategic lead for the department’s operations, working closely with the county manager and senior leadership to develop organizational goals.

“Cindy’s extensive experience in local government will be a great asset to our leadership team as we work to implement the board’s strategic priorities for the next year,” said county manager Hannes Zacharias. “Her knowledge of Kansas politics as well as local and state government operations will be of great benefit in this role, so we’re excited to have her join the organization.”

Green will be the primary analyst and liaison for various responsibilities including new and ongoing initiatives with a number of stakeholders such as metro cities and counties, school districts and other groups. She will also be responsible for the county’s legislative affairs, coordinating and collaborating with executives and senior managers on legislative platforms.

Prior to joining Johnson County Government, Green served as deputy director of the League of Kansas Municipalities where she oversaw advocacy efforts and message development. Green served as a district representative for U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran in Olathe, collaborating with Washington, D.C., staff on policy and issues important to constituents. She has extensive experience in local government, serving on the city council of Lenexa for six years and 10 years of service on the Lenexa Planning Commission. Her previous industry experiences include vice president of Kansas governmental affairs for the Kansas City Regional Association of Realtors, where she built relationships with federal, state, county and city elected officials and public managers to advocate real estate issues. She served as marketing and sales director for Overland Park-based Metcalf Bank and was an assistant vice president in commercial lending at Wichita-based Intrust Bank.

Green holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ottawa University in Kansas City.

County manager named 2017 Outstanding Public Administrator

Hannes Zacharias, county manager of Johnson County, has been named the 2017 Outstanding Public Administrator by the Kansas chapter of the American Society for Public Administration.

Zacharias has served as county manager for Johnson County since 2009, joining the county as assistant county manager in 2001 and as deputy county manager in 2005. His career in public management spans nearly 40 years, including appointments as assistant to the city manager of Lawrence, Kansas; city administrator of Boonville, Missouri; and city manager of Hays, Kansas.

“Hannes is extremely deserving of this honor,” said Ed Eilert, chairman of the Johnson County Commission. “His passion for public service, his desire to continuously improve the organization and his strong leadership abilities are evident in the work he does every day for Johnson County. I’m very pleased to see him receive this recognition.”

Zacharias will receive the award April 21 at a public service recognition luncheon in Wichita, Kansas. The award recognizes outstanding performance in the practice of public administration.

“Hannes is an inspiring leader and a dedicated public servant,” said deputy county manager Penny Postoak Ferguson. “His commitment to the Johnson County community and the county workforce is unmatched. I am proud to serve under his leadership and appreciate the sincere mentorship he has given me and others in public administration.”

“The selection committee was impressed by the deep support expressed for Hannes’ leadership as well as his many contributions to public service,” said KU associate professor Heather Getha-Taylor, who chaired the award selection committee. “The nominators collectively echoed Hannes’ enduring passion for public service, which inspires others.”

Zacharias serves as an instructor in the graduate program at the University of Kansas School of Public Affairs and Administration. He also teaches professional development courses for the KU Public Management Center.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Wichita State University and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas. He is a native of Dodge City, Kansas.

Johnson County 2016 Annual Report now available

The Johnson County 2016 Annual Report highlights the county's most important projects, programs and initiatives that demonstrate our community's vibrancy and growth.

The 35-page report is now available on jocogov.org.

Board chairman delivers 2017 State of the County address

Board of County Commissioners Chairman Ed Eilert today presented his 2017 State of the County address.

“Our county has long been, and continues to be, the bread-and-butter economy for the state of Kansas and for those seeking careers and job opportunities,” Eilert said. “Our economy is far outpacing the state and nation.”

Key facts shared by Chairman Eilert in his 2017 address

  • Johnson County’s unemployment rate declined for the seventh consecutive year in 2016. At the end of the year, the county’s jobless rate stood at 3.1 percent. Kansas was at 3.8 percent; the metro, 3.9 percent and the national rate, 4.5 percent.
  • For the first nine months of 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 3,181 new jobs were created in Kansas, and 2,680 of those jobs were in Johnson County. That means 84 percent of the jobs created in Kansas from January to September were created in Johnson County.
  • In the 2016 community survey, 96 percent of county residents reported feeling safe in their neighborhoods. The national rate is 89 percent. Ninety-six percent reported they were satisfied with Johnson County as a place to live. The national rate is 83 percent. Ninety-five percent were satisfied with the county as a place to raise children. The national rate is 79 percent.
  • More than 11,300 single-family homes were sold, 400 short of the record in 2005. Normal average inventory of homes for sales is six months in Johnson County; today, that inventory is about 2.5 months.
  • Nearly 1,700 new single-family home permits were recorded in 2016 and nearly 1,800 permits were issued for multi-family units.
  • New construction permits for office, retail and industrial buildings also grew, totaling more than 9.9 million square feet with a value of nearly $730 million.

Chairman Eilert shared updates on several new projects including Johnson County Wastewater’s Tomahawk Creek treatment facility, upcoming library and park projects, and the status of the new courthouse and coroner’s facility for which funding was approved by voters in November.

He also highlighted the county’s commitment to education and workplace development as keys to future economic success and recognized the role community leaders play in making Johnson County’s economy strong. Eilert honored the county’s many volunteers, noting that 14,200 residents gave nearly 370,000 hours of their time and talents in 2016 — a contribution valued at more than $8.5 million.

Eilert finished his remarks with an eye to the future, noting technology as a source of constant change in business and government.

“Thriving in the age of accelerations, that is our challenge,” he said. “We can meet those challenges by continuing to support and maintain community assets that provide our opportunities for success.”

More than 700 people attended the address and luncheon at the Ritz Charles in Overland Park. The event was hosted by the Shawnee Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by the Johnson County Public Policy Council.

Appraised property value appeals due Wednesday

The deadline for Johnson County property owners to appeal their appraised property values is this Wednesday, 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 people available to answer your questions about filing an appeal — call 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. 

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.

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.

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