Skip to main content

News / Articles

Observer Corps Reports

Eileen Marshall | Published on 1/3/2023

Johnson County Board of Commissioners

Nov. 17 through Dec. 8, 2022 (latest meeting listed first)

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


Dec. 8, 2022


Go to Go to to see meetings online.


Commissioner Hanzlick was absent; Commissioner Fast attended on Zoom.


Chairperson Eilert signed funding agreements with the Enterprise Center of Johnson County, the United Community Services of Johnson County, the County Economic Research Institute, the Johnson County Fair Board, and the Arts Council of Johnson County for 2023.


The following (re)appointments were approved or ratified:

  • Julia Meyer - Sixth District Representative to the Commission on Aging

  • Becky Parrott – Chairman’s Appointment to the Commission on Aging

  • Paula Schwach – First District Representative to the Airport Commission

  • Scott Gregory - First District Representative to the Consolidated Fire District No. 2

  • Laura Carey - First District Representative to the Consolidated Fire District

The Board approved an Intergovernmental Agreement with Mission to facilitate the Nelson Wastewater Treatment Facility Improvements Project.


The Board held a public hearing and accepted $3,977,106 in American Rescue Plan grant funds administered by the Home Investment Partnerships (HOME-ARP) program from the US Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). These funds are to assist individuals or households who are homeless, at risk of homelessness and other vulnerable populations by providing housing, rental assistance, supportive services, and non-congregate (private rooms) shelter. The following priorities were identified: Affordable rental units for 0-30% AMI and 31-50% AMI households, permanent supportive housing units, non-congregate shelter for adults and families with children, and supportive services. The County is submitting the following budget as part of its HOME-ARP funding allocation plan:

  • HOME-ARP project funds $ 3,380,546

  • Administration and Planning $ 596,560

  • Total HOME Allocation Amount $ 3,977,106

Additional studies will be necessary, and the County has 10 years to spend the funds. Commissioner O’Hara voiced extensive objections to the “Fair Housing” requirements in the funds, asserting that this is a “war” [against Prairie Village and Johnson County], subsequently entering the only “No” vote.  Representatives from United Community Services, The Good Faith Network and one individual commented in favor of accepting the funds. One resident objected.


The Board approved a contract amendment for the Nelson Wastewater Treatment Facility Improvements project in order to bring this 75-year-old facility in compliance with standards.



The Board approved the 2023 Audit Plan proposed by the County Auditor.


The Board approved a plan to bar truck traffic on:

  • Four Corners Road, beginning at 191st Street then south to 199th Street.

  • Waverly Road, beginning at US-56 HWY then south to Edgerton city limits.

  • 167th Street, beginning at Clare Road then east to Hedge Lane.

The COVID Local Fiscal Recovery Fund Funding and Expense Report is available at


Update: The Sheriff’s Office will use about $1.7 Million of contingency funds because of overtime, health care expenses, additional payroll expenses and other items. Applications by experienced law enforcement officers have increased significantly since the improved pay plan revision in September.


Dec. 01, 2022


A public commenter thanked the Board for investing in mental health and renewable energy, and requested that the County pass a non-discrimination ordinance to protect LGBTQ people. Additionally, it was requested that Sheriff Hayden stop his unproductive investigation into elections. Other comments concerned false vaccine information, Bible quotes and pleas for an end to spending.


The audited financial statements for 2021 for Fire District No. 2 were presented and accepted.


The Board approved an agreement with the Mid-America Regional Council to update the 20-year-old regional stormwater management standards and planning guidelines to comply with best management practices in the light of increased development and rainfall, among other items.


The County adopted the 2023 State Legislative Platform, which includes Medicaid expansion, property tax relief for low-income seniors, and a request for funding a transportation plan. The platform also includes a number of items relating to elections:

  • Supports consistent election rules for counting votes in all 105 counties.

  • Supports extending the 3-day postmark grace period to include mail ballot elections.

  • Supports changing the deadline for requesting a multi-county recount from 5 p.m. on the second Friday after the election to 5 p.m. on the 14th day after the election to comply with state statute.

  • Supports verifying the impact on voter system security across the state when making changes to statutes impacting elections.

Concerned about property tax abatements for developers, Commissioners Ashcraft and O’Hara voted no.


The County unemployment rate as of September 2022, is 2.1% (down from 2.3% last year).  The (inflation-adjusted) change in the price of homes sold from Sept. 2021 to Sept. 2022 is up 1.7%.


The Antioch Library Replacement should be completed for grand opening in February, 2024. Phase 2 of the Johnson County Square is scheduled to be finished in late 2023.


The Audit Report on Succession Planning was presented, and several departments, including the Library and Appraisers office, have worked on succession plans to maintain effective operations and avoid employee burnout. Barriers to succession plans remain, however, including lack of county-wide procedures and priorities. Commissioner Allenbrand noted that the suggestions in the report might be valuable for the Sheriff’s department.


Commissioner Hanzlick thanked Tim Wolfe and others from Aging and Human Services and Transit for the informational workshop about transit options for seniors for the residents of Santa Fe Towers.  Commissioner Allenbrand attended the Antioch Library groundbreaking last week. She is seeking residents of the unincorporated part of the County to serve on a zoning board.


Commissioner Fast asked for an overview of all the county boards and committees.


Nov. 17, 2022


Leadership in Action Awards were presented to County employees who saved costs, aided new development, and improved public works and wastewater operations.


Several false claims of election fraud, “New World Order,” and COVID-19 vaccinations were made. Threats to fight election machines were voiced, quoting Senator Mike Thompson. One individual praised the County’s mid-term election work, decried Sheriff Hayden’s false claims of election fraud, and cited the need for affordable housing. 


The Chair signed agreements with Olathe and Gardner for street improvements.


The Board approved land record technology projects, appointed Diane C. Peterson, M.D. as district coroner and Christine James, D.O., as deputy coroner for the 10th Judicial District, and approved the purchase of patient transport equipment from Stryker Medical for Johnson County MED-ACT.


The Board approved an Accessory Dwelling Unit Permit at 8400 Edgerton Road.


Commissioners also approved the distribution of Alcohol Tax Funds as recommended by the Drug and Alcoholism Council of Johnson County and to the Human Service Fund (United Community Services). Recipients include Artists Helping the Homeless, Girls and Boys Clubs, and a new grantee, the Health Partnership Clinic (for co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders, which the pandemic has exacerbated).  Johnson County has a strong continuum of care for people experiencing alcohol and drug abuse disorder.


Funds were directed to the Human Service Fund, which supports residents whose income is at or near the federal poverty level, through job training, transportation and childcare, emergency aid and shelter, housing, child/adult abuse prevention, child welfare and health care. Grantees include CASA, Catholic Charities, Sunflower House and the Salvation Army. The Human Services Fund has moved away from emergency (housing) services to programs supporting long term self-sufficiency and well-being.


Funds were approved to be moved to Fire District #1, and funds were also approved for Dykes Branch Pump Station Improvements Project and the Douglas L. Smith Middle Basin Wastewater Improvements Project.


The Board approved and revised the County investment policy (no financial impact to the County). The significant change is the addition of titles to the list of Board authorized positions who can conduct all investment transactions in order to provide back-up to the Cash Manager, if/when needed. The added titles are County Treasurer and Director of Treasury, Taxation and Vehicles, and Treasury Accounting Manager.


Affordable Housing: The County will invest $1,000,000 of HOME funds in Prairiebrooke Townhomes, consisting of 76 units, of which 60 units will be low income 2- bedroom and 3-bedroom units in Gardner, Kansas. These units are green-built, with rooftop solar panels, constructed by Oikos Development Corporation (ODC), a leading non-profit Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO).


Elections: Because of increased turnout, which necessitated more advance voting sites for the general election, the Board approved $678,000 for the Election Office. Two individuals from the public objected, claiming election fraud.


The Board approved funds for the Shawnee Med-Act capital project (to include individual sleeping quarters for men and women and more private areas to reduce the spread of communicable disease) and Detention Centers Security Equipment upgrades. Regarding security concerns, Commissioner Hanzlick voiced concerns about the delay by the Sheriff’s Dept in providing additional security for the Administration Building, although funds were approved two months ago. This delay leaves the Administration Building without sufficient security.


The Board approved a contract with The Ferguson Group for assistance in obtaining Federal grants and to provide regulatory assistance as needed. Commissioner Fast stated that infrastructure funds are available for culvert and overpass work and for broadband in Johnson County.


The Johnson County Museum received the 2022 Special Achievement Award for the Redlines Exhibit at the Arts and Heritage Center.


For the fifth year in a row, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment received “Full Plus” Recognition by the CDC for their Diabetes Prevention Program.


The Interim Financial Report indicates, among other items, that Motor Vehicle tax receipts are down (fewer car purchases), recording fees are down, investment interest rates are up, and use and sales tax receipts will be up. Investment funds are trending slightly lower. 


Commissioner Fast attended the National League of Cities meeting. Commissioner Allenbrand thanked the staff for a memorable Veterans Day celebration. Commissioner Ashcraft requested a further status update for the Total Compensation Study, which should be available in the spring.  Commissioner Hanzlick asked for an update on the labor shortage in the Sheriff’s department and thanked the participants in the Veterans Day events. She noted the constructive work by the Good Faith Network and others. Commissioner O’Hara made misstatements about voter information.



Johnson County Library Board 

Dec. 8, 2022

Observer: Karen Wulfkuhle


During the fall election the library served 25,000 voters by way of election day voting, advance voting and ballot drop boxes. Voting displays were placed in every library.  In 2023, the library will partner with the League to hold in-person Legislative Coffees. 


Kinsley Riggs has been named Deputy County Librarian. Previously she served as Director of Adult Services.  The Oak Park Library will be closed for several months in early 2023 for various repairs and upgrades.   


To learn more, click here.



Johnson County Mental Health Center (MHC) Advisory Board Meeting

Nov. 28, 2022, in-person at the Mission Office.

Observers: Harry and Mary Bognich

Retiring Johnson County Commissioner Chair Ed Eilert started the meeting by reminiscing about how the Advisory Board was rebuilt in 2013, and with the appointment of Tim DeWeese as director of MHC in 2014, it has made such tremendous strides since then, and he thanked the Board members for their good work for Johnson County. 

Most of the meeting was a presentation about the MHC “Emergency Services Division”. Nationwide, if 80% of crisis care is handled immediately on a crisis line (e.g., 911 or 988), that is considered very good; JoCo MHC is at 90% or better.

Here are some of the things presented:

  • JoCo has had a Crisis Line for 40 years, but it has grown much better in recent years.

  • The Suicide Crisis Line has been national for a number of years, but the new 988 is much easier to remember and to use and can be accessed multiple ways, e.g., by text. This new national network can be distributed so that if one regional center is busy, the call goes to another center in that region, or goes to a national center, so no call is missed.

  • JoCo call volume has doubled, from 17,684 in 2017 to an estimated 40,000 in 2022, for a variety of reasons, mainly good (e.g., increased awareness). Since 988 went live and with all the publicity, Joco since August has been averaging about 4,000 calls monthly, which is a definite increase. Only a very tiny percent of needs cannot be handled just with the call, which is very good and emphasizes the importance of the crisis call line.

  • The one issue with 988 is if you call from a cellphone that has an area code different from where you are physically located (happens about 25% of the time), then the call might be routed to Wisconsin (due to area code) instead of physically here in Kansas. If this issue happens, the call center will get the call to the right place once they know where the person is located. “Geo-location” is being considered for 988, but there are some privacy concerns with that.

  • JoCo Mobile Crisis Teams help provide the next step beyond the Crisis Line and they work what is still needed; they resolve 70% of calls in the field.

Next meeting will be Jan. 23.

To learn more, click here.

Olathe School Board

Dec. 1, 2022

Observer: Cindy Hicks

The annual financial audit report was presented. The district received an unmodified opinion, which is the highest and best opinion that can be received. 

Administration discussed how the national school bus drivers shortage is affecting the district. A high number of former bus drivers have retired over the past two years and the bus company has been unable to fill all the open positions. Currently there are 154 bus drivers, which is well short of the 187 that are needed for the district. The Administration is discussing options for the remainder of this school year and for next year.

To learn more, click here.

Prairie Village City Council 

Nov. 21, 2022

Observer: Eileen Marshall

The Council met in person at 6:00 p.m., with public viewing in person or via Facebook Live. Ms. Limbird, Ms. Wolf, and Mr. Graves were absent.

State legislators Clayton, Corson, Stogsdill, and Xu updated the council on the current status of legislative priorities and possibilities for the upcoming Kansas legislative session. Education access and funding, taxation, and water quality were all discussed.

Meeting as the Committee of the Whole, the council deliberated the legislative priorities for 2023. They also discussed easing the eligibility requirements for the city’s property tax rebate program so that more residents can qualify. This program is meant to help low-income residents remain in their PV homes.

Prairie Village City Council 

Dec. 5, 2022

Observer: Eileen Marshall

The Council met in person at 6:00 p.m., with public viewing in person or via Facebook Live. Mr. Nelson was absent.

As part of the consent agenda, the Council approved the change to the tax rebate program that was proposed and discussed in the meeting two weeks ago. The change increases the maximum household income limit to 65% of the metro area median family income, which will allow more residents to qualify. The program allows a rebate of PV property taxes to low-income residents. Twenty-eight homeowners were helped in 2022.

Three residents spoke during the public comment time – one regarding a traffic issue, one criticizing the mayor and one against any changes to zoning regulations.

Council watched a presentation by United Community Services regarding human services fund grants and use of the alcohol tax funds. Prairie Village, like most communities in the county, contributes to these funds, which are administered by UCS and ultimately flow into the community through organizations such as Safehome, Children’s TLC, CASA, and Catholic Charities, among many others.

Council adopted the 2023 legislative priorities as discussed. These can be found on the city’s website.

The council approved an expansion of the exterior grant program, which affords residents a match on certain exterior projects. Council also approved the renewal of the sustainability grant program begun in 2022, which provides a match on certain projects that reduce a household’s carbon footprint.

To learn more, click here.