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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

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.

Appraised property value appeals due Wednesday

The deadline for Johnson County property owners to appeal their appraised property values is this Wednesday, March 29, for residential property.

“We encourage residents and business owners to review their appraised values closely and if they have information that would assist in better determining the value of their home or business, to please contact our office before the deadlines,” said Johnson County Appraiser Paul Welcome. 

The Appraiser’s Office has a team of people available to answer your questions about filing an appeal — call 913-715-9000.

Approximately 40 to 50 percent of those property owners who file an appeal will see a reduction in the appraised value. The reduced amount will vary for each of those appeals.

“We have extensive information on our website allowing residents to compare sales of homes nearby for a comprehensive look at how the Appraiser’s Office determined their property’s appraised value,” Welcome said.

Property owners are encouraged to go to Appraiser’s Office website for detailed information and a video on the process.  Online, residents may verify the accuracy of the information the county has on file about a specific property (under the Property Data tab). Within the property’s summary, residents will have the opportunity to see what nearby homes in an area sold for which is used to determine the appraised value of the home. The assessed value is a percentage of the appraised value, which determines the specific amount of taxes that must be paid for the specific property. 

The appraisal process is conducted each year by the county under the direction of the state appraiser and in accordance with Kansas law. March 15 was the appeals deadline for commercial property.

The amount residents pay in taxes is set by local and state government, schools and other taxing districts. The mill levy for Johnson County remains the lowest in the state of Kansas. The county (including libraries and parks) only receives approximately 18 percent of all taxes collected. Schools receive more than 50 percent of the tax payment, with the additional funds going to the city or township, special districts (where the property is located) and the remainder to the state of Kansas. 

2017 State of the County address set for March 28

Don't miss Chairman Eilert's 2017 State of the County address on Tuesday, March 28, at the Ritz Charles in Overland Park. Register for tickets to the speech from the Shawnee Chamber of Commerce. Registration ends Tuesday, March 21.

Veterans Treatment Court honors first graduate

In January 2016, Johnson County District Court held the first Veterans Treatment Court in the state of Kansas. It’s mission — to identify veterans in the criminal justice system and, when eligible, to place them into treatment and court supervision as an alternative to incarceration. Today Johnson County Veterans Treatment Court honored its first graduate from the program. District Court Judge Timothy P. McCarthy, who spearheaded the effort to bring VTC to the county, will presided over the graduation ceremony Feb. 15 at the Johnson County Courthouse.

VTC offers two alternatives to jail time: a diversion track through the Johnson County District Attorney’s office and a probation track through Johnson County Court Services. Both programs allow eligible veterans to voluntarily participate in a 12- to 18-month program composed of court appearances, drug and alcohol testing, treatment, recovery support meetings and a mentorship program.

VTC aims to help veterans who may be suffering from traumatic brain injuries, depression, substance abuse or post-traumatic stress disorder because of their military service. Any eligible veteran can apply to the VTC program. To be eligible, you must be a Kansas resident and eligible for Veterans Affairs benefits or a resident of the county (for Mental Health Center services). Veterans charged with low-level felony or misdemeanor offenses such as DUIs, drug-related charges or domestic violence charges will be considered for the program.

VTC is a collaboration between Johnson County’s Sheriff’s Office, Mental Health Center, District Court, Veterans Administration and the county’s Justice Information Management System.

In 2008, Judge Robert Russell in Buffalo, New York, began the first docket dedicated to veterans after he saw an increase in the number of veterans appearing on his drug and mental health court dockets. Today, more than 250 treatment courts in 40 states offer services to military veterans. VTC programs in Missouri are available in Jackson and Clay counties and the city of Kansas City.

County's 2017 budget book is available online

The 2017 budget book for Johnson County is completed and available online. The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners adopted the FY 2017 budget for Johnson County on August 11, 2016.

The total county budget of $944 million is composed of $338 million in county general services expenditures. The remaining $606 million are expenditures for Wastewater, Park & Recreation, Library, Airport and various other fee- and grant-funded services as well as transfers between departments and reserves. 

The total budget reserves are $209.1 million with county general fund reserves estimated at $71.2 million, or approximately 23 percent, which helps the county maintain its Triple-A credit rating by the nation’s top three bond rating companies.

The final setting of the FY 2017 mill levy was established in October with the latest property valuations by the Department of Records and Tax Administration.

FY 2017’s levy for Johnson County Government involves the county’s three taxing districts: County, Library and Park and Recreation. It includes 19.582 mills for the County Taxing District, 3.912 mills for the Johnson County Library Taxing District and 3.101 mills for the county Park and Recreation Taxing District.

The county was able to maintain a flat mill levy despite several revenue impacts from the state and Johnson County continues to have the lowest county mill levy in Kansas. One mill equals $1 on every $1,000 of a homeowner’s assessed valuation.

There's help available for filing taxes

Tax season is here, and it can be a stressful time for many residents. If you’re in need of tax filing assistance, Johnson County offers a few services.

Tax forms

The county will gladly help you print any form at any location for 15 cents per page. The Central Resource Library has a limited supply of federal paper tax forms. Visit jocolibrary.org for more information.

Tax assistance

  • AARP Tax-Aide volunteers: Get help preparing individual tax returns for middle- and low-income residents at our Central Resource Library. Make your appointment online at kstaxaide.com.
  • Johnson County’s K-State Research and Extension office is partnering with Next Step KC (formerly known as KC Cash) and El Centro to host a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site from Feb. 1 to April 15.

VITA sites provide safe, accessible locations for taxpayers to get help to prepare their state and federal income tax returns. There is no charge to have returns completed and e-filed. Residents who earned a maximum household income up to $54,000 are eligible for this service.

The county’s VITA site is in the Sunset Drive Office Building, 11811 S. Sunset Dr. in Olathe. It is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Call the county extension office at 913-715-7000 or visit johnson.ksu.edu for more information.

Avoid tax season anxiety. Let Johnson County help you file your income taxes this year.

County management appoints MED-ACT director

Johnson County Government has named Paul Davis as the director of Emergency Medical Services. He will begin his new role Jan. 16, 2017.

Prior to joining the county, Davis served since May 2006 as executive director of Adams County, Illinois, Ambulance and Emergency Medical Services, where he spent 14 years as a dispatcher, paramedic and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).

Davis’ professional affiliations include service as an officer of the executive board of the Illinois State Ambulance Association and president of the Adams County EMT and Paramedic Association. He holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Hannibal-LaGrange University.

Davis replaces Ted McFarlane who retired in August as MED-ACT director after serving the county 15 years.

Johnson County MED-ACT is the emergency medical services department that responds to all county 911 emergency calls. The department serves more than 560,000 citizens across 473 square miles.

A 'Gold Star' plan

During a check presentation ceremony Nov. 18, Olathe Mayor Michael Copeland accepted a $5,000 donation for a planned Gold Star Families Memorial.

It’s the first donation and officials hope many more will support raising $40,000 for the monument to be placed at the city’s Veterans Memorial Park at Dennis Ave. and Harrison St.  

The Gold Star monument will honor the families of Johnson County servicemen and women killed during active military duty. Johnson County has lost 156 soldiers during military service, with generations of Gold Star families surviving since World War I.

The check donation was presented by Hershel “Woody” Williams, who established the Medal of Honor Foundation in 2012 with the goal to dedicate Gold Star Families Memorial monuments throughout the country to honor the families of fallen members of the armed forces. 

There are more than 14 completed Gold Star monuments in the U.S. and 38 are in progress. Olathe’s memorial would be the first project in the state of Kansas designed by the Hershel Woody Foundation.

Donations are being handled by the Olathe Parks and Recreation Foundation. Donors can call 913-971-8555 for more information.       

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