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Observer Corps Report

Elaine M Johnson | Published on 7/30/2023

Johnson County Board of County Commissioners

June 15 through June 29 (most recent listed first)

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


A live broadcast is available at and on YouTube. Public comments during the beginning of the meeting or for a specific agenda item can now be made in person, virtually or in writing.


Johnson County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) Thursday, June 29, 2023


Public comments lasted about 20 minutes.


The Board moved into executive session for 20 minutes.  Commissioner Fast objected to the timing, stating that standard practice is for executive sessions to be held after the action agenda.


In light of workforce pressures, the Commissioners approved a modified pay table for County employees, representing an average change of 6.1%; and a market pay adjustment for all eligible employees. The Sheriff’s Department received a total 8.3% increase. Public Commenters objected to raises.  Commissioners also approved an increase for the County Manager. Because County Emergency Services employees are paid less here than in surrounding areas, the Board approved a 2% range movement adjustment.


The Board approved the publication of a proposed budget for Johnson County for $1,791,481,885 for fiscal year 2024, and will notify the county clerk of the proposed intent to exceed the revenue neutral rate (for the County, Parks and Rec, and Library). There will be a public hearing on the proposed budget for Monday, August 21, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. in the Board Chambers. 


Commissioners voted to publish the proposed budget for Johnson County Fire District No. 2 for $9,759,590 for 2024, and set a public hearing for Thursday, August 24, 2023, at 9:30 a.m. in the Board Chambers.


Commissioners agreed to create a Sustainability Coalition to serve in an advisory capacity in order to get input on stewardship for the community about energy and greenhouse emissions, quality of life, transportation, solid waste and other areas. Public commenters objected.


In order to create a welcoming community, a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coalition will be established.  A public commenter Justice Horn, Chair of the LGBTQ Commission at Kansas City, urged adoption of the project.


Commissioners authorized the sale of General Obligation Internal Improvement Bonds for $16,840,000 for Airport Improvements.


To address the workforce shortage, county employees may opt in to the Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP), administered by the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS), allowing Kansas Police & Fire (KPF) members to initiate the calculation of retirement benefits, but continue working for three to five years (the DROP period) before separating from employment.


The Board increased funds for the Sunflower Fire Station Project at the former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant and approved a contract with SFS Architecture for design services.


Commissioner Ashcraft left the meeting at 2:30.


Commissioners allocated the Opioid Settlement Funds received from the Kansas Municipalities Fights Addiction Fund to be distributed to United Community Services of Johnson County and the Johnson County Prevention and Recovery Coalition. Commissioner O’Hara objected to the Opioid Settlement Funds being distributed by UCS of JOCO because they “included Critical Race Theory in everything.”


The County Juneteenth Event was attended by about 500 people, a great success. Erin Taylor, Elections, and others were recognized for their work on this event.


The Fall 2023 Johnson County Academy is accepting applications; deadline to register is July 21st. Applications are available at The Johnson County Managers Office


County Economic Research Institute (CERI) Indicators were posted for April:

--The Unemployment rate is 2.5%

--The average price of homes sold is up 4.5%.

--Total retail sales are up 10%

Commissioner O’Hara objected to some library books.

The Board will not meet July 6th and 13th.


Commissioner O’Hara objected to some library books.


The Board will not meet July 6th and 13th.


Johnson County BOCC Thursday, June 22, 2023


The Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition received the National Association of Counties Achievement award for 2023. Notable projects include improving awareness of the Crisis Hotline and distributing more than 15,000 gunlocks and postcards with the Suicide Hotline number.


Public comments lasted about 20 minutes.


In light of the Desoto’s incorporation of more than a third of the Sunflower Army Ammunition land, the Board agreed to amend the County Rural Comprehensive Plan concerning future land use updates and changes regarding the Policy Area Map and the County’s area plans, including the 1998 Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant Concept Plan. Several individuals commented with concerns about traffic patterns, Space Force, national elections, rezoning and lack of public meetings. (Four public meetings were held.)


After a public hearing, Commissioners voted to purchase property in Merriam to use as a county Wastewater wet weather storage site scheduled for the early 2030’s.


Commissioners agreed to buy easements in Leawood for a proposed pump station as part of the State Line Road Pump Stations and Force Main Project. This project contributes to saving the County about a hundred million dollars over 20 years versus sending waste water to Kansas City, MO for treatment.


K&W Underground, Inc. will install fiber optic lines through the Nelson Wastewater Treatment Facility.


Sunset Paving Repairs and Replacement will repair driveways at the Sunset Drive Office Building.  R&R Concrete, Inc. will repair pavement at the Northeast Office (6000 Lamar).


To comply with Federal law and support the County’s mission to have an inclusive workplace, the Board adopted a revised human resource policy. Among other items, measures will provide accommodation to pregnant employees subject to certain conditions, and the request for accommodation because of disability, pregnancy, or religion is protected and cannot be the basis for retaliation.


After moving into executive session, Commissioners returned to the meeting and voted to work with Highlands Real Estate, Inc. to purchase a commercial property.


The 2024 budget process is in progress. Budget open houses will take place June 22 and June 27, and a budget hearing is scheduled for Aug. 21.


Johnson County BOCC Thursday, June 15, 2023


Chairperson Kelly issued a proclamation honoring LGBTQ+ people and Pride Month, June 2023.


Before public comments, the Chair noted that the proposed Habitat for Humanity project is in Olathe limits, subject to that entity’s approvals. It is zoned for single-family homes. The County only approved construction for streets, water and sewer systems on the condition that Olathe approves it.


Public comments lasted about one hour.


Commissioner O’Hara’s motion to reconsider/rescind the authorization of CoronaVirus funds for construction of the infrastructure for the 20 Habitat for Humanity homes failed.


 The Board completed the following items:

  • An exception to competition and a service agreement renewal for respite care services with DCCCA, Inc., for Johnson County Mental Health for $100,000.

  • Contracts with Phillips Site Work for pond sediment removal at New Century Airport, and with Trinity Services Group for a School Food Service Management Program at the Juvenile Detention Center.

  • After a public hearing, consolidated the Northwest and Southwest Consolidated Zoning Boards into the West Consolidated Zoning Board and established the qualifications and appointment process of members.

  • Renamed the Southeast Consolidated Zoning Board to the East Consolidated Zoning Board and established the qualifications and an appointment process of members.

  • Established the qualifications and appointment process of members to the Johnson County Planning Commission.

Joe Carlin, Executive Director, Dignity Project and Lenexa City Council member, introduced the Dignity Project (a public/private partnership).  In 2022 the Project conducted a Feasibility Study to assess the need to address homelessness and the lack of affordable housing in the County. Some of the points of the study include the following needs:

  • Non-Congregate Housing, to be located along transit routes away from schools and residential areas

  • A 50-bed emergency shelter

  • 20 apartments (affordable housing)

  • Additional space to be used to accommodate "flex" beds either accommodating short term rentals/transitional housing, or emergency shelter beds

  • Connected to the Continuum of Care Coordinated Entry System

  • On and/or off-site supportive services including food and hygiene, health, dental and behavioral health, transportation, workforce development, housing assistance, and case management.

Some Commissioners requested more specifics, including a business plan.

Johnson County Library Board

July 13, 2023

Observer: Karen Wulfkuhle

The Library board met in person July 13, 2023. The board approved a memorandum of understanding between the Library and InterUrban ArtHouse for the curation of library art spaces at nine libraries. Library staff has been performing this work; after analysis it was determined that outsourcing was a more efficient approach.

The board approved the Public Building Commission (PBC) Resolutions and

Lease Agreements associated with the Merriam Plaza Library project. This allows the library to issue debt for the Merriam Plaza Library project in the amount of up to $7,000,000. 

The board heard an informational presentation on the strategic plan. The current strategic plan expires at the end of 2023 and new language for the Strategic Plan Key Performance Areas for 2024-2028 was presented to the Library Board for action in August 2023.  The proposed language reads:

At Johnson County Library:

Community: We ensure everyone in our community is represented and welcomed.

Convenience:  We make it easy for our community to incorporate library services into their lives.

Education:  We connect our community to resources that support curiosity and lifelong learning.

Operations: We apply resources in ways that support our community's needs.

Communication: We foster our community's relationship with the library.

To learn more click here.

Johnson County Park and Recreation Department Board

June 28, 2023 at JCPRD Administration Offices

Observer: Ada Neidenthal

Began at 7:00. Ended at 7:50 when the Board went into Executive Session to discuss real estate acquisition. There were no Public Comments

Bike Walk KC agreement was pulled from the Consent Agenda for discussion. It was approved, as were the other 14 Consent Agenda items.

Planning and Development Manager, Georgia Sizemore, presented 2023 major project updates, including the following:

  • Water quality improvements at Heritage Park Lake

  • Trail development at Big Bull Creek

  • Shawnee Mission Park marina and trail improvements

  • Accessible dock facilities at Kill Creek Park, Lexington Lake, and Timber Ridge

  • Streamway trail improvements

  • Road improvements at Cedar Niles Park

  • Ernie Miller Nature Center improvements

Next Board meeting will be July 19, 7:00 p.m., at Administration Offices.

To learn more, click here.

Prairie Village City Council 

July 17, 2023

Observer: Eileen Marshall

The Council met in person at 6:00 p.m., with public viewing in person or online. Four members were absent at roll call, with one joining about 6:30. There was a quorum.

PUBLIC COMMENTS – Two residents spoke against the potential community center. Three residents spoke against potential efforts to increase housing diversity in the city and also generally against the council members and mayor, and one spoke against rising property taxes. After the comments, Councilman Cole Robinson reminded everyone that some of the housing diversity issues being complained about by the commenters have already been removed from consideration; he also pointed out some opinions that had been expressed as fact by the commenters. Public comments and rebuttals lasted about 30 minutes.

AUDIT – The outside auditor presented the clean audit for 2022.

COMMUNITY CENTER – Council approved Memos of Understanding with the Johnson County Library and the Y of Greater KC. These MOUs will govern how the parties will cooperate and share costs for development of a site plan for a potential community center.

BUDGET – As the PV budget for 2024 stands currently, it will exceed the revenue-neutral rate.  Council approved the motion to move forward with the steps required in order to proceed with the budget. These steps are (1) to inform the County, and (2) set the date for the public hearing that is required.

To learn more, click here.