Johnson County Board of County Commissioners presented with the county manager’s proposed FY 2024 budget
Johnson County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson has proposed a FY 2024 budget to address the needs of a growing community, maintain high public service levels and provide competitive compensation for recruitment and retention of staff.
The County Manager’s budget proposal includes a 0.250 mill levy rollback on the county’s property taxes, aligns with priorities of the Board of County Commissioners and represents feedback from Johnson County residents in the 2023 Community Survey.
Putting together the budget proposal for next year was challenging in light of economic uncertainty, high inflation and county employee turnover of almost 17% due to a competitive job market and low jobless rates. A key budget priority for Postoak Ferguson this year is addressing a recent comprehensive salary and benefits study showing the county’s salary grade structure was below market by an average 6.1%
“In order to provide high quality programs and services to our community, we need to be able to recruit and retain high quality employees,” said County Manager Postoak Ferguson, who presented her proposed FY 2024 Budget and Capital Improvement Plan to the BOCC during an afternoon Committee of the Whole session. “This budget allows us to serve our residents, support a growing community and provide our employees equitable pay.”
Another mill levy reduction estimated
The proposed FY 2024 Budget totals approximately $1.79 billion with $1.26 billion in expenditures and $531.1 million in reserves.
“The five year outlook includes the level of reserves that contribute to us maintaining the coveted Triple AAA bond rating. This protects us from the unexpected and allows us to issue long-term debt at the most competitive interest rates – a strategic priority that is more important than ever with our economy’s high interest rates,” the Postoak Ferguson explained.
The total estimated mill levy is proposed at 24.358 mills. The proposed mill levy for the county taxing district is 17.522, retaining Johnson County’s position of having the lowest mill levy among all 105 Kansas counties. The proposed budget includes constant mill levies for the Library Taxing District (3.815 mills) and Park and Recreation Taxing District (3.021 mills). If the 0.250 mill reduction is approved in 2024, it will be the sixth mill levy reduction in seven years, totaling a taxing rollback of 2.249 mills since 2017.
“As we look down the road towards 2024 and beyond, we are confident that we will continue to utilize our innovation, expertise, financial stewardship and culture of high performance to maintain Johnson County as a best-in-class place to live and work,” County Manager Postoak Ferguson advised the Board in her budget message.
Budget reflects board priorities, community survey results
In the 2023 Community Survey, Johnson County received a 95% satisfaction as a place to live. The survey rated MED-ACT, emergency preparedness, parks, libraries and the Election Office as the county’s top priority services. Residents were also most supportive of the use of additional resources for mental health services, aging services and addressing homelessness.
The BOCC’s 2023-2024 priorities include working with partners to improve housing options for resident needs, completing/maintaining the infrastructure needed to support the growing Johnson County community, investing in a high performing workforce to deliver exceptional services and providing a safe and healthy community through the lens of sustainability and diversity, equity and inclusion.
The proposed FY 2024 Budget funds Requests for Additional Resources related to the BOCC’s priorities and input from the community survey.
Budget includes CIP program, merit increase
Highlights of proposed FY 2024 Budget include:
- A Capital Improvement Program totaling $384.4 million. Most of the funded requests focus on maintenance of existing capital assets. It includes funding for improvements now underway at the Nelson Wastewater Treatment Facility in Mission and construction of a new Human Services Building for Mental Health and the Department of Health and Environment.
- The CIP also includes remodeling the New Century Adult Detention Center for video court.
- The maximum number of FTEs is set at 4,265.94, including 4 FTES for problem-solving beds to provide support to individuals transitioning from incarceration back into the community; 10 Sheriff’s Office FTEs previously authorized as temporary positions to provide support for court security and detention, 9 FTEs for MED-ACT including 2 for a new Community Paramedicine program, as well as new positions for Mental Health Center, District Attorney’s Office and Department of Aging and Human Services.
- Fully funding the salary and benefit study at $18.9 million, the MED-ACT market review at $2.6 million, and transitioning the Sheriff’s Office $13.2 million step plan from one-time to ongoing funding.
- A 5% combined merit increase, and market movement is recommended for county employees.
- Increased funding to the Election Office for the 2024 presidential election and an additional presidential primary election.
The Board now will review the budget proposal and hear from county departments and agencies in a series of work sessions in May and June.
Budget open houses coming in June
Budget open houses are planned on June 22 at the Johnson County Administration Building, 111 South Cherry St., downtown Olathe and on June 27 at the Johnson County Northeast Offices, 6000 Lamar, Mission.
Both public events begin at 5:30 p.m. These are informational open house-style events where the public can ask questions but won’t include a formal presentation nor public comment session. Formal public comment will be taken at the budget public hearing on Aug. 21 at 6 p.m. at the Johnson County Administration Building (111 St. Cherry Street, Olathe) in the BOCC hearing room.
The BOCC is scheduled to adopt the final FY 2024 Budget resolution on Aug. 31. By state law, Kansas counties must adopt and file by Oct. 1, their FY 2024 budget with the County Clerk, which in Johnson County is the Department of Treasury, Taxation and Vehicles.