Johnson County, like many communities, is working its way out of the Great Recession of 2008. Our recovery is slow and we have not returned to the level of economic activity that characterized Johnson County in the past. Our priorities need to be directed at encouraging growth:
Loss of Essential Revenue
State legislation under consideration would repeal the mortgage registration fee in Kansas, resulting in Johnson County losing $49 million over the next five years. Counties in Kansas collect a one-time mortgage fee when a mortgage is recorded in the county. The revenue from this fee provides essential support for many of our county services, but Substitute for Senate Bill 298 would repeal the fee. Johnson County would lose this important revenue that helps with costs of maintaining roads, supports general government functions, and assists with services for seniors and vulnerable citizens who rely on the county for assistance. A portion of the fee is dedicated to historic preservation, and that support for our museum and historic sites would be gone, too. (read more…)
We must return to our customary levels of investment in infrastructure. County government has fallen behind in routine maintenance and planned infrastructure development. We spend one-half the amount needed to maintain our existing roads; we have hundreds of acres of parkland that is undeveloped and unused; our library system needs facilities to serve a growing population. Restoring proper funding for these basic elements of county government will create jobs and stimulate local economic growth.
Johnson County has been a premier County because of the level of services provided to residents. State and Federal support is waning, and Johnson County must commit the resources necessary to sustain these services at their historical levels of quality. Opportunities exist through partnerships with the private and nonprofit sectors to enhance these services, but leadership and commitment to excellence are required.
Addressing the urban character of the county by targeted spending.
With a population that is over 540,000 and growing, Johnson County is an urban community. Due to this size, the county budget increasingly must be directed at needs such as infrastructure, transportation (including both roads and public transportation), and essential human services (mental health, public health, and community assistance programs). Growth must be balanced between urban and suburban fringe areas. We must begin strategic investment in the amenities that are being demanded by the “creative class” in order to attract the businesses and residents that provide the skilled, high-paying jobs we want.
Making sure that all Johnson Countians can get to work and school.
Transportation needs to take many forms in our increasingly diverse community. Roads are the foundation of our transportation, but public transit is a necessity for many. Unfortunately, Johnson County has retreated from the planned expansion of the bus system to all-day service on a few selected routes. I will support and encourage further deployment of this service in keeping with the long-range strategic plan for implementing regional public transportation in Johnson County.