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Observer Corps Report

Eileen Marshall | Published on 8/1/2022

Johnson County Board of Commissioners

June 16 through June 30 (most recent listed first)

Observers: Rebecca James, Lenore Rowe, Jerry Gilson, Joan Gilson


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June 30, 2022


There will be no meetings July 7 and July 14. Sean Casserly, County Library director, is retiring.


During Public Comments, individuals made false statements about Board secret meetings, COVID-19 vaccines, and election fraud. A resident complained about commercial truck traffic on 199th street. Chair Eilert reiterated that individual meetings between commissioners and residents are normal and legal events as part of the Board’s responsibility to communicate with residents.


The Board approved several appointments and reappointments:  Chris Talarico - Third District Representative to the Tenth Judicial District Nominating Commission; Virgil R. Gleason - Fifth District Representative to the Transportation Council; Courtney Craig - Sixth District Representative to the Museum Advisory Council; Mary Estrada - Fourth District Representative to the Commission on Aging; Julie Hickman - Fifth District Representative to the Museum Advisory Board; John S. Wittenborn - Fifth District Representative to the Airport Commission; and Donald E. Sullivan – Chairman’s Representative to the Investment Review Group.


The Board authorized a contract with Patagonia Health, Inc., for the purchase of an electronic health records (EHR) solution for the Department of Health and Environment (DHE), for $247,320.


The County will publish a proposed budget for Johnson County Fire District No. 2 for $9,379,712 for 2023, notify the County Clerk of the intent to exceed the revenue neutral rate, and set a public hearing on the proposed budget for Thursday, August 25, 2022 at 9:30 a.m. in the Board Chambers.


The County authorized a contract with Professional Moving & Storage to move voting equipment for $178,375 and for printing and mailing services with SeaChange Print Innovations for $600,000. Note: Paper ballots are available for all voters. The County will be reimbursed for part of these expenditures by local cities. The Election Office also has a “cure” process for all questionable ballots as required by state law, and Johnson County voting machines are not connected to the Internet. Extensive election safeguards exist here.


The Johnson County Emergency Management outdoor warning sirens are activated by the County and maintained by the cities.  The sirens are only activated for tornadoes in order to warn people who are outdoors, and residents are urged to seek information from several weather sources, including JoCoNotify. The County does not send out all-clear signals.


The Arts Council of Johnson County teamed up with Johnson County Government to promote the “I Love My County Because” art contest. Children and young adults ages 18 are invited to participate and more information is available at The contest closes October 7.


June 23, 2022


The Board approved speed limit increases to 45 mph on various roads in the unincorporated area of the County. Sheriff Haydn supports this motion, noting that the most frequent speeders are residents of the neighborhood. A resident objected to the motion.


The Board voted to add four FTE Case Manager positions for the 988 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for $170,000. Funding is through the KDADS grant and no county tax support is requested. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free, confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States. The hotline consists of a national network of over 180 local crisis centers, combining custom local care and resources with national standards and best practices.


The Board voted to publish a proposed budget for Johnson County Government for $1,651,649,184 for 2023, notifying the county clerk of the proposed intent to exceed the revenue neutral rate, and to set a public hearing for August 22, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. in the Board Chambers. The County hopes to offer a 1.026 mill levy reduction. Passing this motion means that the budget cannot be increased, only decreased from this point forward. Robin Symes noted that the County has received a significant amount of Federal funds. 


In 2021, the Kansas Legislature passed a bill requiring that Kansas county clerks send property owners advance notice of the revenue neutral rate (RNR) in an estimated tax notice each year in August. This estimated tax notice is not a bill and should not be paid. 


The County has developed a comprehensive communication plan to provide information to property owners about coming bills, which includes the following resources: a mailing to residents, articles in JoCo Magazine Summer 2022 and The Best Times, and a dedicated webpage at


De Soto will conduct a public hearing on July 7, 2022, for the proposed adoption of the Sunflower Redevelopment District at the former Sunflower Ammunition Plant in De Soto.


The City of Overland Park will conduct a public hearing on Monday, July 11, for the Metcalf 108 redevelopment project plan, located at the northeast corner of I-435 and Metcalf Avenue.


The unemployment rate in Johnson County for April 2022 is 1.7%, compared to 2.7% in April of 2021. The total number of single-family building permits issued in April 2022 was 170, compared to 291 in April 2021, a 41.6% decrease. Total retail sales for Johnson County were $4.3 billion through March 2022, compared to $3.9 billion through the same period as of March 2021, a 10.8% increase.


June 16, 2022


 After a presentation by Christopher Leitch, the County issued proclamations for LGBTQ+ Pride Month.

Juneteenth Johnson County was proclaimed. See     


Individuals from the Good Faith network spoke, requesting more support for people without homes, including those with mental illness in the County.


The Board approved an increase of up to $347,000 for the 2021 Major Asset Replacement Program (MARP), bringing the new total project authorization to $2,449,800 and transferring approximately $347,000 from the 2020 MARP to fund this project increase. This will allow for all work with the Kansas Department of transportation to be done under one contract.


The Board voted to amend the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to include Library Building physical security upgrades for $600,000.


The Board voted to add six FTE Peer Driver positions for the Mental Health Department for $175,000 through the UnitedHealthcare funded program expansion.


The Board also approved the addition of a suicide prevention module to the EVERFI program for $50,000, to be offered for all classrooms across Johnson County. This addition to the previous program will cost about $2 per student. Against the advice of the County counsel, Commissioner O’Hara abstained illegally from the vote.


The Board conducted a public hearing and authorized $405,000 for the development of a web-based customer service portal for Johnson County Wastewater’s Private Infiltration and Inflow Source Removal Program, awarding a contract to Daupler, Inc. The program objective is to reimburse customers for the removal of illicit sources of rainwater drainage located on their private property. These sources can overwhelm the system capacity, causing backups and increasing treatment costs. Since the 1990s, JCW has removed over 16,000 illicit sources.


The Board approved an agreement with the City of Leawood to facilitate the JCW State Line Pump Stations and Force Main Project. This will divert the dry weather flow to the Tomahawk Wastewater Treatment Facility, saving ratepayers an estimated 100 million dollars over a 20-year period. No funding is required for this agreement; funding will be requested later for the design and build stages.


The Board authorized a contract with Coffman Associates, for a Comprehensive Land Use Compatibility Plan update for New Century AirCenter and Johnson County Executive Airports, for $127,960. The original plans were adopted in 1996 and 2004, respectively, and require updating. Commissioners O’Hara and Ashcraft asked that these consulting services be provided in-house by the County or be competitively awarded. Staff evaluates all bids for competitiveness and does not have the expertise in-house to provide these services.


Johnson County Aging and Human Services opened a new congregate dining site for older adults at Olathe Towers Monday – Friday 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. A hot nutritious lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m. daily. Breakfast is also offered Tuesday – Thursday.


The first inaugural County Juneteenth Celebration was held June 19, thanks to the efforts of the sheriff’s office, the Johnson County Museum, Erin Chambers of Elections and VIBE* and many others. Ms. Chambers sang at the event, which also featured poetry written for the occasion, music and step dancing. 


*Voices of Inclusion, Belonging and Equity

Blue Valley School Board

June 16, 2022 – 6:00 p.m.

Observer:  Ann Schuster

The meeting began with an announcement of the resignation of Board member Amy Tysseling. Residents of District 1 who wish to be considered for the position should apply to the Board, who will be selecting Ms. Tysseling’s replacement to serve out the remainder of her term, which ends in January, 2024. Remarks of appreciation for her service were expressed by Board members.

Committee reports were offered by the District Technology Committee and Finance and Operations.

Recognition of student achievements were given by Superintendent Tonya Merrigan.

New business:

-Proposed curriculum documents were presented to the Board for their future consideration in these areas: Science, Math, Social Studies, Career and Technology, World Languages, and ELA. 

-An update of school safety issues was given by the head of the Safety and Security department.

-Approval was given to appointments for various Board committee vacancies.

-Approval was given to an extension of Superintendent Tonya Merrigan’s contract.

-The meeting was adjourned at 7:14 p.m.

To learn more, click here.

Prairie Village City Council

June21, 2022

Observer: Nancy Kalikow Maxwell

The Prairie Village City Council met in person on Tuesday, June 21 2022, beginning with a presentation honoring the Youth Police Academy graduation. Emily Sheldon from BT&Co. then presented the positive results found in their 2021 audit. 

Councilperson Ian Graves then presented the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Housing Committee that he chaired. Most of the recommendations, he explained, were meant to address the “missing middle” of Prairie Village homes, given that almost all of the housing is currently single-family. Among the committee recommendations are zoning code changes to allow for such structures as: ADU’s (accessory dwelling units), small lot detached houses, duplexes, 3- and 4-plexes, and/or row houses. In the discussion that followed, Mayor Mikkelson expressed his support for these recommendations, stressing that no large, multi-story projects are being proposed. Several Council members also mentioned the need to address the problem of homes standing vacant for long periods. All of the recommendations as presented were then approved unanimously, with staff and the Planning Committee directed to begin the process of drafting the most feasible recommendations for the Council’s future consideration.

To learn more, click here.