Johnson County approves fiscal year 2023 budget
On Thursday, Sept. 1, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners adopted the Fiscal Year 2023 Operating and Capital Improvement Budget.
The county’s financial plan reduces the mill levies in all three of the county’s taxing districts for a total one mill levy rollback next year. It represents the county’s fifth mill levy reduction in six years.
The FY 2023 Budget totals slightly more than $1.65 billion with $1.162 billion in expenditures and $488.1 million in reserves. Despite reductions in all three of the county’s taxing districts, the county’s budget was not revenue neutral, using more property tax revenue compared to the current year.
The additional revenue traditionally is received from newly built homes and businesses and/or increased property valuations from continued economic development and population growth in Johnson County and its cities and schools.
Johnson County represents 20% of property taxes
Johnson County Government is the annual property tax collector, but only represents 20% or less, depending on library services, of total tax statements. Mill levy support for schools account for more than half of local taxes. Even prior to the proposed mill levy reduction, Johnson County has had the lowest mill levy rate among the state’s 105 counties for several years – despite being the most populous county in Kansas.
“Adoption of the new budget reflects months of hard work, tough decisions and many challenges,” said Chairman Ed Eilert. “The FY 2023 Budget makes sustainable capital investments to make our community better, continually supports essential public services and programs, and funds community enhancements and public improvements to benefit residents of all ages now and into the future.”
Budget supports public safety, other key services
The county plans to spend roughly 26% on public safety, judicial and emergency services; almost 12% on cultural and recreation; and 10% on human services in 2023. The lion’s share of budgeted expenditures, amounting to slightly more than 32.5%, goes for infrastructure. Debt service, however, is less than 1% in budgeted costs for long-term financing bonds with favorable interest rates from the county’s long-standing Triple-Triple ratings by the top three credit rating companies.
The county continues to invest in public health and safety, economic development, parks and trails, libraries, important capital projects and vital infrastructure, including stormwater and road improvements.
Budget prioritizes staff, addresses workforce challenges
With a challenging labor market, the budget also prioritizes the county’s employees by investing in them through fair compensation and benefits to make county government’s work possible and public services and programs available. Actions include additional funding to address issues with pay compression, a 3% merit pool for individual 2022 performance (ranging from 0-5%), a 2% increase for market adjustments, and increasing the county’s maximum match from 3% to 4% to supplemental employee’s retirement.
“This budget takes a balanced approach to address three priority areas – continuing to provide high-quality services to the community, financial stewardship with a mill levy rollback which relieves pressure on increasing valuations, and addressing workforce challenges,” said County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson. “Key metrics such as our annual community survey putting us in the top 20 jurisdictions in the nation, as well as being amongst the top 2% of all counties who have achieved a Triple Triple A bond rating, show that our multi-year budgeting approach is fiscally responsible while providing the services our community expects and deserves.”
Key highlights of the 2023 budget
Highlights of Johnson County FY 2023 Budget include:
- A rollback in the county’s total property tax levy to an estimated 24.542 mills (a 1.026 mill levy reduction when compared to the FY 2022 mill levy). Due to pending exemptions, once assessed valuation is finalized in October, the mill levy is estimated at 24.568 or a 1.000 mill levy reduction. The budget lowers Johnson County’s three taxing districts, including 0.82 mills for the county taxing district, 0.10 mills for Johnson County Library and 0.08 mills for Johnson County Park and Recreation District.
- A Capital Improvement Program with $23.3 million for the Stormwater Management Program; $21.8 million for Commerce Center phase II at the New Century AirCenter; approximately $20 million for capital projects and enhancements at county parks; $17.2 million for the County Assistance Road System (CARS) program; almost $10 million for a new MED-ACT facility in Olathe; and $5.5 million for Johnson County Library projects, including approximately $1 million for De Soto, Spring Hill and Edgerton Library improvements.
- Additional personnel to meet increased demands for public services and public safety, including four Sheriff’s Office positions; two positions for the Department of Emergency Services to answer 9-1-1 calls and dispatch first responders; a victim advocate for the District Attorney’s Office to help address a backlog of cases; a new housing coordinator to focus on housing insecurity and affordability; and three Johnson County Mental Health Center positions.
The county is continuing to work on workforce challenges, exploring both short and long-term solutions for the organization. Challenges within the Sheriff’s Department and other public safety departments will be discussed at a BOCC Committee of the Whole on Sept. 15.
The final setting of the FY 2023 mill levy will be established by the end of October with the latest property valuations by the Department of Treasury, Taxation and Vehicles. Johnson County property owners will receive their next tax statement after Nov. 1. The county’s next fiscal year begins Jan. 1, 2023
Details about the FY 2023 Budget, current and previous budgets, and budget process are available at jocogov.org/budget.