Johnson County debating budget crunch

JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. - Johnson County commissioners debated the $873 million budget Tuesday.

The budget is larger than last year because of an increase in salaries. There is also a significant loss in funding due to a reduction in the mortgage registration fee, which the state legislature voted to eliminate.

The fee previously brought $18 million to the county.

With more state revenue shortages expected, county leaders are already looking at solutions.

“Either we go ahead and increase property taxes, which is our only vehicle right now for taxation since sales tax is maxed out for us or we talk about a reduction in services," said County Manager Hannes Zacharias.

To make up for lost revenue, Zacharias is suggesting a "modest" property tax increase.

Johnson County may be facing additional challenges in years ahead.

Kansas took in $338 million less for the fiscal year ending Monday than state officials projected, escalating the debate over Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s income tax cuts.

The state finished the year 5.8 percent below estimates after revenues plunged more than $300 million in April and May combined, meaning the state will eat through reserves to balance its budget.

Zacharias forecasts as the budget lessens at the state level, Johnson County may lose funding to its corrections facilities, mental health institutions, highways etc.

A public hearing on this year’s budget is set for July 28.


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