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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

BOCC names interim county manager

The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners today named Penny Postoak Ferguson as interim county manager, effective Jan. 1, 2018. The appointment by the commission was unanimous in a vote following an executive session this afternoon.

Postoak Ferguson has served as deputy county manager since 2012 when she was promoted from assistant county manager. 

“I’ve worked with Ms. Postoak Ferguson at the city level as well as in her current position as deputy county manager and I have every confidence that she will be able to bring the continuity and leadership that will maintain our community as a great place to live, work and raise a family,” said Chairman Ed Eilert. “In addition to her demonstrated talent, she is very well-respected within her profession. I look forward to the important work that must be accomplished and she has my full support.”

Ferguson has served as assistant city manager in San Antonio, Texas; deputy and assistant city manager in Overland Park, Kansas; core manager/executive director of budget and research for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas; and as assistant city manager in Hays, Kansas. 

Today’s vote followed a public comment period in which many employees and members of the public spoke in support of County Manager Hannes Zacharias. By majority vote, the original decision not to renew Zacharias’ contract after Dec. 31, 2017, was upheld.

“Many of us have had the pleasure and honor of working with Mr. Zacharias and we want to thank him for the work he has done for our county the past 16 years,” Eilert said. “Staying true to the Athenian Oath, Hannes is truly leaving our county a much better place than he found it, and for that we are extremely grateful.  We wish him all the best in the future.” 

Ferguson's biography is available online.

Statement from county manager regarding BOCC vote

"A majority of the Johnson County Commission has voted to not renew my contract to serve as County Manager, effective Dec. 31, 2017. As all managers know, this is their right. As expressed to me, the majority wants to take Johnson County in a more fiscally and socially conservative direction, impose more direct oversight by the commission over county operations, and adopt a more 'laissez-faire' attitude toward regulation. Although this governmental decision runs somewhat contrary to the County Charter, I respect it.

"I want to use this space, however, to say thank you to the citizens of Johnson County, the governing body members, and the more than 4,000 employees I have had the pleasure to serve with these past 16 years. Together, we steered the Johnson County community through the worst recession in memory, reducing staff by 12 percent and ongoing expenses by $47 million — all the while maintaining an inspired workforce and increasing citizen satisfaction, as measured by the ETC Institute, the Olathe-based company that conducts annual county-wide surveys. During my tenure, we have added more libraries and parks, opened the Arts and Heritage Center, added to the county trail system, passed a sales tax to replace the outdated courthouse and medical examiner facility, and planned for the replacement of the Tomahawk wastewater facility. These are some of the largest undertakings in the county’s history.

"On my watch as county manager, we have integrated services for vulnerable populations, made our mental health services more robust, and have maintained Johnson County as the healthiest county in the state. We have integrated our criminal justice system and are inventing ways to reduce pre-trial incarceration, which makes our system the envy of much of the country. We are national award winners in virtually every area of county government and have received the trust and confidence of county residents, who routinely rate us at 95 percent or above in citizen satisfaction polls. It’s no secret that Johnson County sets the standard nationally. We have done so while maintaining coveted AAA bond ratings and the lowest mill levy of any county in Kansas. By virtually all measures, Johnson County ranks in the top 1 percent of all counties in the United States.

"I am most proud of the culture our organization has fostered. County staff is focused on doing the right thing, for the right reason, for the public good. It is an organization dedicated to public service, striving for constant improvement, and living the Athenian oath: to leave this community better than we found it. As I leave this position, I certainly hope that I have lived up to this standard.

"I love Johnson County and the Kansas City region. I am sorry that, come Dec. 31, I will not be able to lead the outstanding county workforce in delivering the award-winning services Johnson County residents want and deserve. Until then, I intend to complete my duties and assist in the orderly transition to another manager.

"My hope is that I can express my passion and talents to help this region and Johnson County prosper and grow in some other capacity come Dec. 31. Thank you for the privilege to serve."

Statement from chairman regarding county manager

“It is with great disappointment that I am writing to inform our county staff that the Board of County Commissioners voted today 4-3 not to extend the contract of County Manager Hannes Zacharias. To provide the 30-day notice, as required in his contract, his service as county manager will end effective Dec. 31, 2017.

“As I stated prior to and following the vote, I do not agree with the decision and believe it is not the correct action for our county commission to take. This vote does not reflect in any negative way on the moral, ethical or professional character of Mr. Zacharias, as I and others stated as the vote was taken.

“Our county has many successes and achievements which are due to the leadership of Mr. Zacharias since his appointment in August 2009. He brought a wealth of experience in local government to our county and I am extremely grateful for his public service career with Johnson County. I wish him success in his future.

“In the coming weeks, we will begin the process to determine the selection of the next county manager.

“I very much appreciate all of our county employees’ hard work and leadership which have resulted in the nationally recognized services that our county taxpayers have come to expect from our organization. I trust your demonstrated commitment to the positive results of the organization will continue throughout the transition period. Thank you.”

Lineage Logistics Facility at New Century AirCenter

Some questions have been raised about the planned Lineage Logistics cold storage facility at the New Century AirCenter Industrial Park. It will be a warehouse where frozen foods are received, stored and then distributed; it will not manufacture or process any chemicals. The facility will use anhydrous ammonia only as a refrigerant in a closed loop system inside the facility to maintain the necessary level of cold temperatures. Anhydrous ammonia is commonly used as a refrigerant in similar facilities that store or process food and beverage products. It also is widely used in agriculture for growing farm crops. See FAQs for more information on this site.

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.

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