Danedri Thompson
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Johnson County Charter Commission members scrapped a proposal to expand the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners from seven to nine members on Dec. 5.
Charter Commission member Mike Pirner said expansion would make the board of commissioners more representative.
Pirner said he has “come to the strong conclusion that this proposal deserves to be forwarded to the voters, because I believe for reasons of representation, accountability, and accessibility that an expanded commission would better serve the people of this great county.”
In 2000 Johnson County’s governing document was adopted, the county commission districts contained approximately 80,000 people. Today, commissioners represent about 92,000, Pirner said.
The 2000 charter expanded the county governing body from five members to seven.
“If we do nothing, by 2020, the districts will be around 105,000 or more,” he said. “If we, however, expand the commission to nine members, the population in each district will be Lenexa Mayor Mike Boehm, who also serves on the charter commission, said his concern is that expanding the commission now will result in further expansion in the future.
“We had five, and 10 years later, and now we’re looking at nine,” Boehm said. “Ten years from now, we’ll use that to expand again.”
A majority of the commission voted down the expansion proposal. The rejection was one of several amendments charter commissioners have decided against placing before voters.
During previous meetings, commissioners voted down a proposal to return to partisan elections, and at the Dec. 5 meeting, they also rejected proposals that would allow voters to roll back real estate tax increases and sales tax increases.
The county’s charter includes a provision that the document be reviewed every 10 years by a 25 member commission appointed by Johnson County legislators, the county Republican and Democrat parties, county commissioners and from the council of mayors.
They are charged with potentially making recommendations to amend the county’s governing document. Those recommendations are then forwarded to the board of county commissioners and then to voters.
Convened in February of 2011, the commission has yet to approve any recommended changes to the charter. The group will formally disband next February.