State of the County
The State of the County is an annual address given by the chair of the Board of County Commissioners. During this address, the chair will share a recap of the past year in Johnson County, including key successes and initiatives and share his vision moving forward.
2023 State of the County Address
Chair Mike Kelly gave his first State of the County Address on April 4, 2023, after being sworn in earlier in the year. The theme of the address was “Moving Forward” – that Johnson County is Always Moving Forward and in All Ways, Moving Forward.
Recap the chair’s speech below, which explored the topics of infrastructure, sustainability and a variety of vital county services.
Johnson County played a major part in Kansas winning the Governor’s Cup, awarded to the state with the most economic growth per capita, for the second year in a row.
The county’s economic growth includes a variety of new development projects, such as the Panasonic electric vehicle plant in De Soto and infrastructure at the New Century Commerce Center. The county also relies on small business: Almost 93% of the county’s business community is made up of businesses with less than 50 employees.
The Board of County Commissioners has taken action to address workforce shortages, investing $2 million in two affordable housing complexes and more than $2 million in recovery funds for childcare.
Infrastructure is helping support the economic development. The county is assisting in infrastructure around the Panasonic facility, including a new fire station and significant road improvements to serve the new development in De Soto.
K-10 improvements are also underway, and the Kansas Department of Transportation has broken ground on the U.S. 69 modernization project. In addition, improvement projects at the Nelson Wastewater Treatment Facility and Tomahawk Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility will meet the needs of a growing community.
Public Health and Safety
Johnson County is a desirable place to live, thanks to our safe and healthy community. The county continues to prioritize public health and safety by:
- Addressing staffing vacancies in the Sheriff’s Office
- Expanding the mental health co-responder program, adding nine co-responders
- Planning for development of a Mental Health Court, modeled on the Veterans Treatment Court
- Constructing two new MED-ACT facilities in Lenexa and Shawnee
Environmental resiliency is key to great communities, and the county is focused on sustainable infrastructure specifically. Johnson County has 10 LEED-certified buildings, and was one of just 25 governments to receive a LEED Gold certification in 2022.
Additional improvements, from the construction of clean energy facilities to allowing landowners to install solar panels, are good not only for the environment but also for the economy.
The Mental Health Center now has professionals taking calls through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, fielding 44,000 calls last year. The Mental Health Center was also named a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic, which benefits Medicaid clients with an enhanced rate from the state.
Aging and Human Services received more than $1.6 million in federal grants last year to assist aging adults. This has helped the department provide services such as meals, caregiver support, disease prevention and more to older residents.
The county’s first-ever Housing Coordinator, Megan Foreman, will work with community partners to address affordable housing. Affordable housing continues to be a big focus of the county, and the board authorized $2 million in federal relief funds to address housing and food insecurity last year.
In 2022, the Election Office administered the August primary and November general elections. The office also manned a recount of more than 256,000 ballots in five days, resulting in a 0.0002% difference of ballots cast. Thank you to Election Commissioner Fred Sherman and the more than 2,000 election workers who successfully ran the elections.
2023 will be guided by the budget adopted last August. The budget cut mill levies in all three of the county’s taxing districts, with the Johnson County taxing district boasting the lowest mill levy rate among all 105 counties in Kansas.
Upcoming priorities include regional transportation networks, the challenges faced by seniors on a fixed income, and the rising cost of housing. Together, Johnson County will continue in All Ways, Moving Forward.