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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

Commission adopts 2018 budget, includes mill levy reduction

The Johnson County Commission today adopted the county’s fiscal year 2018 budget. The budget includes about a quarter-mill reduction of the county general fund mill levy.

“This budget meets the county’s needs and allows us to reduce the county general fund mill levy,” said Ed Eilert, chairman of the Board of County Commissioners. “The budget the commission adopted today includes a quarter-mill reduction, and it increases the county’s reserves so it can better accommodate wastewater system improvements, weather a potential economic downturn and maintain our excellent credit ratings.”

The 2018 budget totals $1.06 billion, composed of $819.6 million in expenditures and $242.1 million in reserves.  

Of the $242.1 million in reserves, $106 million is for Johnson County Wastewater (JCW), a fee-funded utility, which does not receive property tax support and does not receive revenue from residents who are not served by JCW. The reserve is for the construction of a new treatment plant and additional costs associated with sending wastewater to Kansas City, Missouri, for treatment until the new facility is built.

The remainder of the reserves are as follows: $81.1 million for general fund, $12.1 million for county operations, $16.7 million for fee-funded services including stormwater operations, airport and 9-1-1 services, and $25.3 million for parks and libraries.

“The adopted budget increases resources to public safety and elections and allows the county to meet the ever-growing demand for our services,” said County Manager Hannes Zacharias. “This budget adheres to the commission’s direction to maintain a constant mill levy or reduce if prudent.”

The total estimated county mill levy is 26.276 mills — a reduced mill levy when compared to 2017. This includes an estimated mill levy of 19.259 for the county taxing district, 3.915 mills for libraries, and 3.102 mills for park and recreation.

The 2018 budget includes a Capital Improvement Program totaling more than $159.6 million:

  • $77.4 million for wastewater 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 capital projects;
  • $13.1 million for election office upgrades to voting machines.

Total estimated revenue from ad valorem taxes is $247.6 million, comprising $186.5 million for the county taxing district, $31.1 million for libraries, and $30 million for park and recreation.

The adopted budget funds a maximum of 3,949.72 full-time-equivalent employees (a total increase of 62.73 FTEs from 2017).

Positons added include:

  • Johnson County Library’s request to hire 38 new positions for the new Monticello branch in Shawnee set to open in 2018, plus four information specialists, a civic engagement coordinator, collections clerk and IT analyst.
  • To facilitate the opening of new parks and facilities, the Park and Recreation District has budget approval to fill 10 FTEs, including regional park managers and assistant park managers, park workers, an administrative assistant, recreation coordinator, facility maintenance supervisor and natural resources technician.
  • Johnson County MED-ACT will fill 12 FTEs, all paramedics, under the 2018 budget. Seven of these positions are to support staffing of two Overland Park MED-ACT ambulances that Johnson County will assume operations of in 2018 and the remaining five positions will enhance current MED-ACT operations to meet call volumes.
  • The District Attorney’s office will hire two assistant district attorneys and an investigator in 2018.
  • Emergency Management and Communications will fill two emergency communications specialist positions in the next fiscal year.

The county’s budget includes a 13.3 percent increase in the county general services expenditure budget — 6.8 percent of the increase comes from the voter-approved public safety sales tax to fund a new courthouse and coroner facility. The sales tax sunsets in 2027.

On average, residential property owners will pay $885 in county property taxes for 2018 — about $74 per month, based on the average home value in the county which is approximately $293,000.

The new budget must be approved and certified to the county clerk by Aug. 25. The county’s department of Records and Tax Administration (RTA), acting in the capacity of county clerk, must calculate mill levies and taxes for certification to the county treasurer for collection on or before Nov. 1.

The final setting of the 2018 mill levy will be established by the county clerk with new property valuations by RTA.

Johnson County’s fiscal year begins Jan. 1. FY 2018 budget documents are available online at jocogov.org.

FY 2018 budget public hearing set for July 31

Johnson County residents are invited to a public hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2018 budget at 7 p.m. Monday, July 31. The hearing will be held in the county commission chambers, 111 S. Cherry St. in Olathe.

Residents at the public hearing will be able to provide feedback to county staff on the 2018 budget.

On June 8, the county commission authorized publication of the proposed FY 2018 maximum budget, totaling $1.06 billion, composed of $822.8 million in expenditures and $242.1 million in reserves. Once set, 2018 budgeted expenditures can be decreased but not increased.

The total estimated county mill levy is 26.607 mills — a constant mill levy when compared to 2017. This includes an estimated mill levy of 19.590 for the county taxing district; 3.915 mills for libraries; and 3.102 mills for parks and recreation.

The 2018 budget was prepared with a constant mill levy, and the Board of County Commissioners recommended that the budget accommodate a quarter-mill rollback in the county taxing district. The current 2018 budget allows for this rollback.

Budget timeline

•    On Aug. 3, the county commission will review and formally approve fire district budgets, review input from the public hearing, and is set to adopt the FY 2018 budget resolution on Aug. 10.

•    According to state statute, the county budget is due to the county clerk on Friday, Aug. 25, if there is no election needed.

FY 2018 budget documents are available online.

Pick up summer JoCo Mag today

Hot off the presses, JoCo Magazine's summer issue is being mailed this week to county residents. The summer edition includes features on selecting licensed child care for your family, a history lesson as Johnson County celebrates its 160th birthday and a spread about the shared services that keep county government up and running.

You can also check out a online version of the summer edition.

County commission sets maximum expenditure budget

The Board of County Commissioners on Thursday authorized the publication of the proposed fiscal year 2018 maximum budget totaling $1.064 billion, composed of $822.8 million in expenditures and $242 million in reserves.

“The FY 2018 proposed budget includes the potential to roll back the mill levy by a quarter mill,” said Ed Eilert, chairman of the Board of County Commissioners.

After today, FY 2018 budgeted expenditures can be decreased, but not increased.

The total estimated county mill levy is 26.607 mills — a constant mill levy when compared to the FY 2017 mill levy. This includes an estimated mill levy of 19.590 for the county taxing district; 3.915 mills for the library taxing district; and 3.102 mills for the park and recreation taxing district.

Total estimated revenue from ad valorem taxes is $250.8 million, comprising $189 million for the county taxing district; $31 million for libraries; and $30 million for parks and recreation.

The county commission authorized two changes from the county manager’s FY 2018 proposed budget, allocating $164,000 for advance voting postcards and $380,510 for the gubernatorial election, fully funding the election office’s requests for additional resources.

“We encourage residents to review our proposed budget online and to attend our public hearing July 31 to learn more about the specifics of our budget and provide us feedback,” said county manager Hannes Zacharias.

Next steps

  • On June 15, assessed valuation estimates will be available for the FY 2018 proposed budget
  • The FY 2018 proposed budget will be published in The Kansas City Star in July
  • The public hearing on the FY 2018 proposed budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, July 31

FY 2018 budget documents are available online.

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.

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