The proposed FY 2020 Budget for Johnson County Government maintains a constant mill levy for Johnson County property owners. It aligns with the county’s emergency and safety-net services rated “most important” future priorities in the 2019 Community Survey and with top priorities of the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) for 2019-2020.
County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson presented the budget proposal to the board on Thursday, May 9, during a Committee of the Whole session.
“I am proud of what we have accomplished within the FY 2020 Proposed Budget,” Postoak Ferguson noted in her budget message to the BOCC. “We were able to maintain and even enhance our high level of quality services and programs within the means of a proposed constant mill levy for FY 2020. As our Community Survey reveals year after year, Johnson County sets the standard of service delivery compared to other communities of our size.”
The county’s proposed FY 2020 Budget totals $1.26 billion, with expenditures estimated at $934.5 million and reserves set at $331.4 million. The funding supports the departments and agencies that comprise Johnson County Government to serve and protect a county population of more than 604,000 residents.
“Residents are encouraged to learn more about the proposed budget and provide input about county services and programs for FY 2020 and beyond,” Ed Eilert, chairman of the BOCC, said. “All residents are invited to be an active part of the county’s annual budget process and to share their views with Board members and county management as we consider and finalize the budget for next year.”
Under the budget proposal, additional resources are earmarked for public safety, including additional staff support for the District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office. According to the 2019 Community Survey, a sense of feeling safe and a low-crime rate were the top reasons why they plan to stay in the county for the next decade.
Requests from the Human Services Department and Mental Health Center will enhance meeting the needs of the county’s vulnerable population and low-income households which received an 88% rating of importance in the community survey. The proposed budget includes additional funding for Human Services’ Housing Choice Voucher Program and four new Mental Health positions, including a deaf services and after-hours clinicians.
Another Board top priority is development of “a creative and innovative vision for a transit plan that is financially sustainable.” With that goal in mind, the proposed budget includes $500,000 for an extension of the transit system’s microtransit pilot program for on-demand shared ride services in Overland Park, Lenexa and Shawnee.
A decade nears an end
In her budget message, the county manager cites 2019 as the end of decade “under the shadow of the Great Recession.” While maintaining a constant mill levy, the county streamlined its operations, reduced its budget by $46 million and eliminated 428 positions without layoffs in the aftermath of the recession.
“Since the onset of the Great Recession, the county has maintained service levels for more residents with less staff,” Postoak Ferguson explained.
In 2009, the county had 4,127 FTEs (full-time equivalent) employees with a ratio of one FTE to 4,176 of population. Since then, the county increased by approximately 78,000 residents. The proposed FY 2020 Budget includes 4,066 FTEs with a ratio of one FTE to 4,704 of population. The proposed FY 2020 Budget provides a 3% salary merit increase pool for county employees.
Heading into 2020, the county manager touts several major projects either completed or in progress “on time and on budget” that benefit all of Johnson County and improve the life of residents now and in the future. The projects include current construction of a new courthouse in downtown Olathe, the county’s first-ever Medical Examiner Facility, also in Olathe, and expansion of the Tomahawk Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Leawood.
The county also opened Big Bull Creek Park between Gardner and Edgerton and will open Meadowbrook Park in Prairie Village on June 1. Other projects include completion of Monticello Library in western Shawnee and the relocation of the Lackman Branch Library to the Lenexa City Center which opens on June 2.
A new decade dawns
Postoak Ferguson also outlines several projected future needs to serve and protect a growing population. The list includes additional MED-ACT stations, expansion of jail units, ongoing improvements to the Park and Recreation District and Library system, and additional services related to age-related illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, and mental health demands.
According to the county manager, the first budget in a new decade has the perspectives of both FY 2020 and a longer term in the years and decades to follow.
“My hope is that this budget will position us for both. We’ve prioritized our decisions by looking at what we deemed to be critical and essential, but we’ve also tried to consider what was fundamental to moving the organization forward,” Postoak Ferguson concluded in her budget message.
“At the dawn of a new decade, it is logical to look out farther. There is reason to be optimistic, but we must be clear-eyed as well, realistic about the challenges and the weight of the decisions that await us.”
What’s the bottom line?
The estimated mill levy for the proposed FY 2020 Budget of $1.26 billion is 26.013 mills, unchanged from the county’s current mill levy.
Based on an average residential property value of $330,000, the estimated tax is approximately $987 or $82.25 per month. The estimated county tax on an average value of $2,194,432 for a commercial property will be approximately $14,271.
The estimated amount generated by one mill of property tax was placed at $10.8 million in 2020. The county’s property tax does not include other taxing entities, such as the state of Kansas, cities and school districts.
Other highlights of budget proposal include a Capital Improvement Program totaling almost $253.8 million, including:
The BOCC now will review the budget proposal and meet with county departments and agencies in a series of work sessions from mid-May to mid-June.
The Board is scheduled to set the county’s maximum expenditures in the FY 2020 Budget on June 20 for legal publication to take place on July 13 after final assessed valuation estimates and projected sales tax revenues have been received. 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 public hearing on the new county budget will occur at 7 p.m. Monday, July 29, in the Board’s Hearing Room located on the third floor of the Johnson County Administration Building, 111 South Cherry Street, in downtown Olathe.
The BOCC is scheduled to adopt the budget resolution during its business session on Thursday, Aug. 8, beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the Hearing Room. According to state statute, the county’s new budget must be approved and filed with the County Clerk by Aug. 25.