Kansas Area Council Lunch
BOCC Chairman Eilert Addresses HBA Members
Johnson County Board of County Commissioners Chair Ed Eilert spoke to the Kansas Area Council November membership lunch, providing an update about the county government. Eilert gave an overview of the FY 2012 budget. The total budget is approximately $810 million. The budget did not contain a mill levy increase and is in line with the county’s five year plan to balance the budget. Expenditures were reduced by $11.7 million. While there were no layoffs, about 145 vacant full time employee positions were eliminated.
Property and sales tax revenues have stopped going down and are flattening. The mill levy has generally been around 23 and a quarter, including the library and parks mills. During the housing boom, the county collected $20 million a year in mortgage registration fees. That income has fallen to $11-12 million a year with the housing market slowdown. Appraisals for office space are up and multifamily is as well, albeit slightly. Residential appraisals remain soft and retail appraisals are down. Residents are able to access the budget online at http://countybudget.jocogov.org.
Eilert touted economic activity in the county, including the Johnson County Education Research Triangle. In 2008 voters approved a 1/8 cent sales tax to support new facilities and programs in Johnson County in partnership with K-State University, KU Edwards campus, and the KU Medical Center. The sales tax is generating approximately $14 million a year. “There are no other programs like it in the country,” said Eilert. “It will provide good jobs – and a lot of them.”
The National Food and Animal Health Institute at K-State’s Innovation campus in Olathe opened in April. Abaxis, Inc. has opened its first laboratory testing facility near the Olathe site to provide veterinary services for animal health and the firm anticipates 100 workers in three years. The campus also partnered with Ceva Santé Animale to provide two laboratories for three research scientists and to provide on-site training for college students. The North American corporate headquarters of Ceva are located in Lenexa.
The Edwards Campus’ Business, Engineering, Science and Technology (BEST) Building in Overland Park will provide academic degrees in business, engineering, science, and technology. It is scheduled for completion in December with the first class beginning in January.
The Clinical Research Facility in Fairway is nearing completion and will be part of KU’s Cancer Center. The building was donated in 2009 by the Hall Family Foundation with the renovation partly funded by revenues from the sales tax. Eilert also noted the BNSF Railway Intermodal facility will provide new jobs for the county as well.