November 26, 2014

Citizen oversight of county park board needed

Edgerton taxpayers deserve better, and so do the rest of Johnson County taxpayers who were convinced in the late 1990s to purchase park land while it was affordable. Fourteen years later, no development at Big Bull Creek Park has taken place.
The 1,400 acre park is slightly smaller now, after Edgerton condemned part of the land and purchased it for $196,000. The property was necessary for a joint sewer project between Gardner and Edgerton.
The condemnation was necessary, according to Michael Meadors, director of the Johnson County Parks and Recreation district because the property was purchased with a $6 million bond issue. Meadors said according to the park district’s attorney, the $196,000 Edgerton paid to purchase the property can only be used to purchase additional property nearby, or be used to pay down debt.
Sounds good, but we’ve seen public entities do legal maneuvers around statute before when it’s to their benefit. We’ve also seen them hide behind legal counsel when it’s to their advantage. At the very least, if the $196,000 is indeed used to pay down debt, the same amount needs to be set aside in the next budget to develop a portion of Big Bull Creek Park. Not just for Edgerton residents, but for all Johnson County residents who in good faith originally got behind the bond issue.
We understand the necessity of buying land to set aside for parkland before it’s developed, but we contend taxpayers who passed the bond issue to purchase the park in 1998 never understoond that it would take generations to create a place for residents to walk or picnic out of the forested land.
Currently, no one is allowed on the public park property; at the very least the money could be used to designate hiking or nature trails for county residents. But the Big Bull Creek Park land-grab is only a symptom of the true problem.
For an appointed board, the county park and recreation board has too much power and not enough oversight. The board has a 2-mill taxing authority with no balancing from the public’s eye in regular elections. In the 1950s, a state statute was narrowly passed establishing the board; it’s the only one of its kind in Kansas.
It’s unforunate that the Charter Commission, which meets every 10 years to examine county policies, didn’t consider recommending changes to the park district’s structure. Now it’s up to the county commission and Johnson County citizens.
To protect the voters of Johnson County and to afford them a voice in the use of their tax monies, the county commission needs to direct legal staff to investigate amending the park statute to restore proper checks and balances.
Taxapayers deserve better.

Comments

  1. Judith Rogers says:

    In my opinion it was the slimy politicians, bureaucrats and the thieves and the people who supported them who ruined this park land for the people and not the Jo. County Parks and Recreation district when they enabled and supported that nightmare of an intermodal project. Why in the Sam Hill would you spend more millions to develop this land when I can’t think of one sane person who would be wanting to go there considering what will be going on around it. Who is going to be wanting to deal with millions of trucks and the trains in this highly industrial area along with the pollution, crime, risks, etc., etc. – I don’t think I would enjoy a walk in the park there or attend a wedding, meeting, etc. It is a damn shame what the people will be living with and suffering from that project and in my opinion no nearby park is going to enhance it in any way, shape or form nor will any landscaping of that eyesore but, of course, I am a realist and not some propaganda pushing politician/bureaucrat/thief.

    Do ALL government entities, including any Park Board, need oversight – of course, they do and it needs to be done by responsible, caring citizens and in today’s world those people are hard to find in my opinion when I look at all of the apathy. However, to me all the oversight in the world is not going to change the challenges facing the Big Bull Creek Park – it is doomed before it was ever developed and I cannot see how you would be smart in putting more good money into it after the lowlifes have ruined it for you.

  2. Judith Rogers says:

    Ole Brownie and his clones are trying to get the people to go along with cutting the taxes on boats – the issue will be on the ballot come November – you better be looking at the BIG PICTURE before you cast your vote on that issue. The Republicans have taken care of the big boys by eliminating business personal property taxes a few years ago and state income taxes for many of them just this past year. Loss of millions and millions of tax revenue to the citizens to say nothing about the loss of tax revenue due to the fraudulent “farm” appraisals. Now he wants to take care of them once again by changing how boats are taxed and he is not thinking about the little guy fisherman……..for the most part he is taking care of the luxury boat owners – that is my opinion. Here are some comments I read today about the issue and they pretty much hit the nail on the head………..and what is the worst thing to me is that citizens actually VOTE TO INCREASE THEIR TAXES in many instances…….they drink and eat the propaganda and rhetoric like crazy…….a good example is your most recent school bond issue when citizens supported and enabled your increasingly expensive “sports education”…………..ignorance and apathy make for HAPPY POLITICIANS AND BUREAUCRATS AND THIEVES…………..

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    Mad_Keith
    If the state really was considerate of its citizens, they’d tax boats higher and cars lower. It’s relatively easy to live without a boat. Try living without a car or truck. Since boats tend to be “luxury” items, the Guv needs to take care of his donors.

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    barno1 1 comment
    Everythings rosie with the boat tax. Guess if you have a 170,000.00 house, you shouldn;t complain about a 4000.00 a year real estate tax. If The tax stayed the same for 30 years, then you would have paid an extra 120,000.00 for your house, but this goes on till after you are dead. Nothing stays the same, including your income. Have you looked lately at your grocery or clothing reciept at what you are paying for sales taxes. I won’t even go into talking about your phone bill, untlity bill ect. If you think the federal gov’t is taxing you, look at your local city, county, and state taxes and fees. This is where the career politicians feeding trouth starts.

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