New Charter Commission set to study county government

The Best Times Digital Edition

February 24, 2021

A new Charter Commission for Johnson County, the third in county history, has been authorized.

The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) unanimously approved a resolution on Feb. 4 to establish a 25-member Charter Commission with eight members named by the board.

The other 17 charter members were appointed by organizations representing state legislators, political parties, chambers of commerce, council of mayors and rural Johnson County.

Establishment of a Charter Commission is required by the county’s Home Rule Charter. Under the provisions of the charter, the BOCC must convene a commission every 10 years to study and make recommendations about the structure and operations of the county government, including possible amendments to the charter.

Johnson County’s Home Rule Charter was the first of its kind in the 105 counties of Kansas. The charter was approved by Johnson County voters in 2000,” said Chairman Ed Eilert. “Any amendments to the charter, if proposed by the newly-formed Charter Commission, will require an election set by the board and approval by Johnson County voters.”

The decennial commission must convene its first organizational meeting within 30 days of today’s authorization.

“The first meeting might be virtual in light of current health and safety guidelines regarding the ongoing  pandemic,” Chairman Eilert said. Details will be arranged prior to the meeting and publicly announced.

The Charter Commission will then meet as frequently as its membership deems necessary and schedule at least one public hearing. The commission must submit a final report of its findings and recommendations by Feb. 4, 2022, to the BOCC.

The county’s first Charter Commission was established in May 1999 and issued its report a year later with recommendations that the county adopt a Home Rule Charter form of government along with three interrelated questions for voters to decide in the operational structure of County Government:

  • Appointment of a county manager and elimination of three elected officers – county treasurer, county clerk and register of deeds – with the positions to be appointed by the county manager.
  • Increase the number of the Board of County Commissioners from five to seven members, including a publicly elected, at-large chairman.
  • Non-partisan elections for county commissioners.

Johnson County voters approved all three questions in the November 2000 General Election.

The county’s Second Charter Commission was formed in January 2011 and issued its final report in February 2012. The commission proposed no amendments to the county’s Home Rule Charter that would have required voter approval.