Chairman Mike Kelly Mocks Public Speakers While “Going to the Mat” for the County Surveys

by Jennifer Williams

Johnson County – it’s time to wake up!

The majority of the Board of County Commissioners do not care about you.

This past Monday, the County held the legally-required public hearing regarding their intention to exceed revenue neutral – meaning to raise your property taxes, again.

The meeting lasted almost 3 hours, and the house was packed, with overflow going out into the hallway.

Real people took time out of their evenings (just as they’ve requested every county commission meeting to be held – after work hours and not during), and there were a variety of personal anecdotes, budget savings ideas, and undeniable opposition to the proposed tax increase.

The handful who spoke in favor of the budget did not give any insight into the entire budget – only that they support the budget because they support funding for mental health and homelessness.

Plenty of residents addressed the effects the increased taxes have on destroying mental health and claimed that they would all be homeless if the excessive taxation, in an already inflationary economy, continued.

The public repeatedly expressed their lack of support for the excessive salary increases that benefitted the top tiers of government staff, with increases as high as 22.5% for the top level, while the lower working class only received 1.9%.

The people from all walks of life poured their hearts out to the Commission and begged them to find savings, just like the residents are having to do in their home budgets.

Kansas Senator, Mike Thompson, promised to find a way at the State level to reign in this uncontrollable County spending. He stated that the reason they tried to institute the revenue-neutral hearings under Senate Bill 13 requirements was because of what people across the state had to say. “My largest number of emails come from people saying, ‘I am being taxed out of my home. I can’t afford to live here,’ just like the previous speaker was saying.”

Senator Thompson went on to address the inflation rate and the increased interest rates stating, “You cannot continue to raise tax in a bubble, and anybody who owns a business who raises their prices 17%, what do you think is going to happen? They are going to lose business. . . Yet when the County decides, well we need to hire 75 more people, or we need to build something new, well we’ll just slip through a few tax increases. This is unsustainable, as many people have been saying.”

He addressed that he is taxed by 10 taxing authorities, and 9 out of 10 of those are exceeding revenue neutral, some by as much as 22%, and that nobody is considering the aggregate impact on each individual. “If that continues every year, people are not going to be able to afford to stay in their homes.”

He went on to address Senate Bill 13 which required the revenue neutral hearings, claiming, “If you think Senate Bill 13 is the end, if this continues, I feel personally as a Senator who supported this (SB13) that the county government, the taxing authorities, are thumbing their nose at our constituents, our taxpayers. And I’ll be paying very close attention tonight. If this goes up, if all these other taxing authorities continue to increase it, then you think Senate Bill 13 is bad. I’ve got some ideas.”

The crowd erupted in applause and cheers of gratitude that someone with the authority to make a lasting change was actually listening to the people.

District 5 Kansas Representative, Carrie Barth said, “I’m here just to listen to the people. I really care what they have to say. . . I hear everybody loud and clear. So I want to say thank you. I’m so proud of the community that’s here tonight. We all care about people. We all care about your money. We care about your taxes. Tax increases that are unnecessary in my book are called stealing. It’s called theft. If you don’t need the money, don’t take it. It’s robbery. Please don’t do it.”

Their misleading “mill levy rollback” chart was addressed that claimed they had savings to taxpayers of $95.6 million since 2018, when in actuality the budget has grown $99.3 million in that time frame. Residents also discussed the inaccurate staff reports that are “rubber-stamped” by the commissioners, along with their tens of millions of dollars in excess reserves that could be cut back to save taxpayers.

Shara Collins questioned Chairman Mike Kelly’s involvement in the Global Covenant of Mayors, a subsidiary of the World Economic Forum stating, “I think we all know what is going on here.”

She also called attention to a July 29, 2023 summary notice of bond sale that she found online as an auction through the SEC. She urged people to look up General Obligation Bonds and defined them as “municipal bonds taxed solely by the credit and taxing power of the issuing jurisdiction and are issued with the belief that the municipality to repay its debt obligation through taxation and revenue.”

“Maybe that’s why they’re raising your taxes,” she claimed.

She went on to request an explanation of where the money is from the bond sale and why it was not accounted for in the budget presented, and said “It would be a good idea to get an outside audit firm to take a good look at this whole entire thing” She even suggested getting the IRS involved for an audit with the public filling out form 3949-A to request a look into the “shenanigans going on.”

Johnson County resident, Thad Snider, addressed the millions spent by the County on masks and lockdowns, “You cost people their jobs, their businesses, and now you’re raising our taxes. You have mismanaged our money and now you want more of it.”

He addressed the $225 million tax break to international corporation, Panasonic, and the $93.5 million being lost to tax incentive financial districts that favor corporations in exchange for the people picking up the tab. “Go get it from them” he cried.

To this, the County Attorney, Peg Trent, laughed and Mr. Snider fired back, “You can laugh all you want, Peg, making $200,000 a year after resigning in disgrace from Wyoming as the prosecutor.” The crowd erupted in applause.

“Our County Manager makes more than the President of the United States!” he exclaimed.

Mr. Snider went on to address an earlier speaker who supported the budget increase because she was homeless and had fought through the system trying to get help and felt an increased budget would help future homeless people.

“This young lady who lost her home, she’s talking about the strife of trying to get aid from you and she wants a bigger budget so that you can waste it and do a terrible job with it? She needs help! Absolutely she needs help and you’re doing a terrible job of it. Mental health would be a lot better in this County and you wouldn’t have to spend more on it if you didn’t tax people out of their homes.”

The result? They voted 5-2 (shocking, I know) to raise your property taxes – even though they campaigned and promised not to raise taxes. One resident even spoke directly to Mike Kelly on that topic and said that Mike promised him directly during the elections that he would not raise taxes.

Mike lied. So did the other 4 who voted in favor of tax increases – Meyers, Hanzlick, Allenbrand, and Fast.

When the commissioners had the chance to make personal statements at the end of the meeting, some claimed that this didn’t necessarily mean that they are going to raise taxes, but that it just gave them authority to exceed the revenue-neutral rate if they needed to. They said that the actual budget will be voted on next Thursday, August 31, 2023, during the regularly scheduled commission meeting at 9:30 a.m.

Yet, each commissioner who voted in favor of exceeding revenue neutral commented that they supported the budget.

Commissioner Janee Hanzlick stated they have the opportunity to clarify some “misinformation” that she’s heard, to which the cloud jeered and booed (because during Chairman Mike Kelly’s first day in office, he blocked the public comment portion of the meeting from being live-streamed to the public at home for fear of “misinformation” being spread to the public – aka a narrative that he could not control.)

Hanzlick went on to claim that she is a taxpayer too and, as a social worker, probably has less wealth than many in attendance. She stated her increase would only be $7 per month. She threatened the same old song and dance, that without county taxes you would have no ambulance service, no road service, and no mental health.

She went on to say, “I don’t know about you. I’ve said this a lot of times. I don’t want to have to have an outhouse in back of my yard. I’m glad we are investing in our wastewater infrastructure.”

Seriously, Janee? That’s all you’ve got as a supporting reason for a total $6.5 million library remodel for two libraries and tens of millions in budget reserves (excess money with no purpose) for mental health and public health exceeding the county’s policy for reserve percentages allowed?

Hanzlick is out of touch with reality.

Commissioner Charlotte O’Hara, who voted against exceeding revenue neutral, claimed the 1/4 mill rollback is an absolute insult. “What I find is amazing is that our budget seems to reflect how much taxes we can collect from increased valuations. . . How is it that our budget, year after year, reflects approximately what we can increase due to increase in valuations? And there is a direct correlation.”

She went on to ask of staff, “What if we couldn’t collect that much in taxes? What if the appraised values didn’t increase that much? What if our valuations overall stayed flat? What would we do? Would we increase the mill levy? Oh, no. That would be bad press because we always want to roll the mill levy back a little bit, so that we can say, ‘Well we rolled your mill levy back.’ But it’s true that it’s not the mill levy. It’s the increase in your valuation.”

She shared a personal anecdote that she will be paying $7,000 more in taxes with her home and commercial buildings. “Now what am I going to do? Am I going to raise my rent rates to my tenants? Those are small businesses. Those are your neighbors. It never ends. There’s no fiscal responsibility. $582 million in reserves. We give $23 million to Evergreen and yet we can’t take 22 million dollars, roll back the mill levy so it is revenue neutral, and then we can get our house in order next year and not increase taxes? Really? I am appalled. As a businesswoman, if I ran my businesses this way, I would be bankrupt. But it’s because we are totally able to raise expenditures because of valuations, and this is nothing but a tax on unrealized gains.”

Chairman Mike Kelly thanked the people for coming out saying, “Whether you believe me or not, we really do appreciate it. We appreciate your comments and really appreciate you taking time out of your day to come and share them with us. No matter how you feel about the budget, I do appreciate that you’ve all shared some of your time with us this evening.”

Is that right?

Then why, during yesterday’s meeting to review the August 31st agenda did he claim the people who spoke in opposition at the revenue-neutral hearing were just “whipped up on a Monday night” to come and speak, as if their voices were insignificant and he didn’t believe they were legitimate concerns? His comments implied the people were orchestrated to be there by some opposition force, instead of recognizing that the people are not happy.

He went on to brag about the County’s 95% approval rating from some surveys – of which no one knows who received them, when, or what they stated.

He said he would take that approval rating “to the mat” as opposed to what the real live people standing in front of him were begging. These surveys were taken prior to any mention of budget increases and possibly after campaign promises of no tax increases, but again, no one knows what segment of the population was surveyed or what questions they were asked.

There’s no question people love Johnson County. That’s why they’re fighting so hard to not be taxed out of their community.

Take a look here.

At yesterday’s agenda meeting for next Thursday, Commissioner Shirley Allenbrand continued to express her support for the budget, claiming that she feels the hurt and it’s cutting into her play money but she supports the staff salary increases. She also claims she wished someone would have come forward with real numbers and a plan. Didn’t she read the budget herself? Is she incapable of coming up with her own ideas, or does she only have the capacity to vote in whatever way the staff recommends?

Has she ever voted no to staff requests?

Check it out here:

Thursday, August 31st is the last chance to speak to the outrageous budget that has doubled in 10 years time and is now $1.79 BILLION.
Show up at 111 Cherry in Olathe on the 3rd floor at 9:15 am to sign in and tell them that your real voice matters more than their fabricated surveys.

Push back before the voice of We the People is silenced forever.


  1. These commissioners should be so ashamed of themselves that they should be worried to appear in public!
    Please everyone study and research before you vote next time.

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