The Johnson County Commission recently 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, MO, 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 Hannes Zacharias, county manager. “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<https://www.jocogov.org/>.