On Thursday, May 6, Johnson County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson proposed her FY 2022 budget and Capital Improvement Program. Her proposal to the Board of County Commissioners maintains and, in some areas, slightly enhances the programs and services provided to nearly 610,000 residents. It invests in critical areas of county government and those that align with the BOCC’s priorities and feedback from the annual Community Survey.
County Manager Postoak Ferguson presented her proposed budget and CIP plan Thursday during an afternoon Committee of the Whole session. The proposed budget includes a quarter-mill rollback in property taxes in 2022.
The proposed FY 2022 mill levy is 18.549 mills for the county’s taxing levy, retaining Johnson County’s position of having the lowest mill levy among all 105 Kansas counties. The proposed budget includes constant mill levies for the Library Taxing District (3.905 mills) and Park and Recreation Taxing District (3.093 mills). The budget proposal for next year totals approximately $1.38 billion with $941.2 million in expenditures and $436.1 million in reserves to fund 30 departments, agencies, and offices that comprise Johnson County Government. The budget aligns with the board’s priorities, including completing major capital projects, protecting the county’s vulnerable and aging populations, developing a vision for a financially sustainable transit plan and focusing on innovative initiatives that enhance operational effectiveness and efficiency.
The county manager expressed pride in the county leadership, county employees and community efforts to the COVID response and recovery efforts.
“While not at the finish line yet, our collective efforts during this pandemic, both as an organization and a community, have truly saved lives. We were also able to swiftly and strategically identify $25 million in expenditure decreases due to the financial impact of the pandemic,” said Postoak Ferguson.
Details on the FY 2022 budget and Requests for Additional Resources
The proposed budget includes a total of 4,135.43 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions next year, including 24 new FTEs. They include three FTEs to the Med-Act department, a new position - Homeless Outreach Manager for Johnson County Mental Health Center and six FTEs to the Sheriff’s Office to enhance security at the new Johnson County Courthouse.
The proposed budget includes an additional ongoing $250,000 for Aging Care Services following an ongoing $250,000 included in the FY 2021 budget, as well as additional $1.53 million for micro-transit and additional funding to enhance the software that helped county staff build the COVID-19 dashboard.
The county manager proposed a 3% salary merit pool in 2022 for county employees.
Capital Improvement Program for FY 2022
The budget proposal continues to make investments in long held community priorities, including a Capital Improvement Program (CIP) totaling $161 million. Estimated allocations include:
• $79.1 million for wastewater projects.
• $17.7 million for capital projects by the Johnson County Park and Recreation District.
• $16.8 million for the County Assistance Road System (CARS) program.
• $14.8 million for the county’s Stormwater Management Program.
• $4.4 million for transit projects.
• $2.4 million for the county’s Bridge, Road and Culvert Program.
• $1.7 million the Library Capital Replacement Program.
• $1.6 million for airport projects.
The CIP also lists $3 million for a new Household Hazardous Waste Facility in Mission in light of plans for major improvements to the Nelson Wastewater Treatment Plant and $3.8 million for a new Med-Act facility in Lenexa.
A different year requires a multi-tiered approach
According to the county manager, “the past year was challenging and very different than any of us have known,” with the county taking “a different approach” in the proposed FY 2022 budget using a balanced, multi-tied mixture of property tax rate rollback, one-time funding and reserves with a goal to serve the community with high levels of stewardship and quality services.
Johnson County Government received an allocation of $116 million in federal CARES Act funding last year. Approximately 30% was allocated to community re-investment. Examples of how that funding was invested included $13.5 million in direct grants to small businesses, and $3.3 million in rent, utility and mortgage assistance. Funding was also used to reimburse some of the costs associated with COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. In many cases, county staff were reassigned to COVID work, resulting in their salaries temporarily being reimbursed by federal funding, and the budgeted salary dollars remain in reserves.
Looking ahead, the county expects to receive $116.8 million through the Local Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Fund (LCFRF), including possible one-time funding opportunities and the option to allocate funding through 2024.
“One challenge is the projected impact of the LCFRF. If the (federal) guidance is finalized during the budget process, we will be able to develop more accurate projections to enhance your decision making,” the county manager advised the board.
Possible one-time funding list
More than $35 million in “additional priorities for one-time funding” was discussed. These projects are not included in the budget, as they require policy decisions that have not yet been made. These include further improvements to Lackman and Pflumm roads to Heritage Park, a new kitchen for the county’s Home-Delivered Meals program, Med-Act buildings, airport improvements/project, Kuhlman property, and building security.
The Board of County Commissioners will conduct a series of weekly work sessions in May with county departments. The board is expected to set the maximum budget expenditure on June 17 for legal publication. Following legal publication, the county cannot, by law, increase the amount of the budgeted expenditures, but can decrease the amount of the operating budget or taxing level in final approval by the BOCC.
The proposed public hearing on the FY 2022 budget is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 23 and the proposed adoption of the new budget is tentatively set for Sept. 2. Both events will take place in the board’s hearing room on the third floor of the Johnson County Administration Building, 111 South Cherry St., in downtown Olathe.
The final setting of the FY 2022 mill levy will be established by the end of October with the latest property valuations by the county’s Records and Tax Administration, a division of the Department of Treasury, Taxation and Vehicles. The mill levy calculations are only for Johnson County Government and do not include other taxing entities, such as the state of Kansas, cities or school districts.
The county’s fiscal year begins Jan. 1, 2022. Details of the county manager’s proposed FY 2022 budget are available at jocogov.org/budget.