At its regular meeting on Nov. 19, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners voted to adopt Resolution No. 108-20, outlining enforcement of Public Health Order No. 002-20, issued by the Board of Health on Nov. 13, 2020.
However, at this point neither Edgerton nor Gardner cities are included as the county’s order for a $500 fine for noncompliance. It applies only to unincorporated areas unless cirties agree to allow the county to enforce the order within their jurisdictions.
The order pertains to physical distancing and mass gatherings in certain business settings, the hours of operation for restaurants and bars and includes other provisions.
The adoption of a resolution on enforcement makes noncompliance with this and future Local Health Officer or Board of Health orders a violation of the Johnson County Code in the unincorporated area of the county.
Locally, neither Gardner or Edgerton ticket for mask violations of the Johnson County Board of Public Health order..
On October 19 of this year, the Gardner City Council passed Ordinance 2682 adopting changes to the city’s Uniform Public Offense Code. “As part of that action, the city removed language from the UPOC that would have granted agents of the county the authority to enforce public health orders within city limits,” said Steve Shute, Gardner mayor. “This effectively opts the City of Gardner out of the currently passed public health orders. The city has no intention to pass a resolution entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with the county that would opt the city into allowing county codes staff to write citations based on those orders.”
“Citizens should not call the police department regarding enforcement of the county’s order,” Shute said.
Johnson County codes apply in the unincorporated parts of Johnson County.
At this point, the Edgerton City Council has not met since the new Public Health Order was enacted by Johnson County.
“Our preliminary understanding is that the City of Edgerton City Council would have to consider opting into an Agreement with Johnson County to allow enforcement within the Edgerton city limits by Johnson County code enforcement staff,” said Beth Linn, city administrator. “However, as of today, we have not received any official documentation for the Edgerton City Council to consider this action. If received in sufficient time, Edgerton City Council would consider such action at the December 10th meeting, as it is our only council meeting scheduled for December. “
This enforcement resolution provides that Johnson County local health orders can be enforced within Johnson County cities if a city passes a resolution allowing county codes to be enforced within its jurisdictions and enters into an agreement with the county. The chairman is authorized to sign such agreements with cities. Cities would assist the county in reporting and investigating noncompliance with health orders within city limits.
In an effort to clear up any confusion, Ed Eilert, commission chair, noted, “This resolution is focused on businesses and mass gatherings rather than on individuals,” requesting that any reference to individuals be struck from the resolution. “Otherwise there could be misunderstanding of what the order is.”
The emphasis will be on awareness and education. The fine for violation of a health order would not to exceed $500 per offense. There is no criminal penalty.
Anyone who wishes to report a concern may do so by calling the county’s Call Center at 913-715-5000 or email [email protected]
Authority to enforce the governor’s mask order resides with the District Attorney’s Office. This resolution does not impact that authority. Those seeking enforcement of the Governor’s mask order, can contact the District Attorney’s consumer fraud hotline at 913-715-3003.