Property Tax Proposed Increases Demand Public Involvement Immediately

by Jennifer Williams

It’s that time of year again. We were shocked in the spring by the massive property tax appraisal increases and were told that “just because your appraisal increased does not mean that your taxes will.”

Well, my property taxes are increasing by over $700 for my home (thanks Spring Hill USD230 for your outrageous budget that is going to get 83% of that increase).

I also received a notice for two vehicles that will cost almost $2,500 in property taxes just for those two vehicles – of which USD230 will receive over $1,500! They are proposing going from a 70.456 mill rate to a 72.584. Revenue neutral (no new taxes) would have been 57.23 mill, but they are proposing an average 22.55% increase over their 4 line items.

This is highway robbery! Vehicles are expensive enough with inflation and higher interest rates. To continually add more fees and taxes is making it mathematically impossible to maintain. Instead, it forces people to look at ways to downsize, settle, and stop trying to improve their life situation because expenses are drastically exceeding income.

We are paying taxes on inflation, not on an actual appreciation of the quality or condition of our property. It is strictly an increased property tax on the inflation tax that we are being forced to pay due to the erosion of the value of our dollar. Enough is enough!

Where does it end? As one adjusts, they all adjust, which causes other things to adjust. All of the taxing jurisdictions, utilities, and others keep raising prices to adjust for inflation and it never ends. In the meantime, the people lose everything they’ve worked so hard to build.

The people must stand up, show up, and speak up.
Just say no to their drug (money) addiction.

Tonight is the Johnson County Kansas hearing to exceed revenue neutral and increase your taxes. The property tax letter you received will also tell your city and school hearing dates.

It is imperative that you participate!

For Johnson County, show up tonight, sign up in person, and speak to the proposed budget.

2024 Johnson County Kansas Budget Public Hearing

A public hearing on the 2024 proposed budget and intent to exceed the revenue neutral rate will take place 6 p.m., Monday, Aug. 21 in the Hearing Room at the County Administration Building, 111 Cherry St.

Live public comments, either In Person or Virtual, for the Budget Public Hearing will be accepted for those who preregister. The registration link is open and will close at 11 a.m., Monday, Aug. 21. Individuals wishing to speak In Person may also sign up in person starting at 5:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 21.

Johnson County Kansas budget

Unfortunately, there are several budget items that were already approved prior to the budget hearing, so there’s nothing the public can do about it. Last month, the Board of County Commissioners and staff pushed through $15.3 million in salary increases, sealing the deal on that prior to any budget opposition. To take the money back could open them up to employment lawsuit liability, so there’s no going back on it – by design and not by accident.

Had they waited to present the salary increases until during the upcoming budget hearing, the people might have had the opportunity to speak about the issue. Instead, the only chance they had was during their work hours at the 9:30am Thursday morning county commissioner meeting. This is not transparent or ethical for the working people who expect their public comment and voice regarding tax increases to actually mean something. By the time they get the chance to speak about the budget, the individual budget items have already been approved outside of the budget hearing, leaving the people stuck with the proposals.

When staff and their rubber-stamping-commissioners use tricks and tactics to slide things through outside of scheduled budget hearings, it erodes the public voice and the public’s confidence in their government representatives.

Let’s talk mill levy for a moment. We are trained to hear “we lowered the mill levy” as meaning “we lowered your taxes.” That is false.

Mill levy is the product of a mathematical equation. Like a percentage, it fluctuates depending upon the other factors in the equation (such as the increased property valuations).

When property valuations increase, the mill levy must decrease or else the taxing jurisdiction will take in more money than the year before. The purpose of the revenue-neutral hearings are to hold the taxing jurisdictions to the same income they collected in the prior year. If they want 1 dollar more, they must hold a public hearing showing why.

Since Johnson County property values increased this year, the mill levy must decrease to keep the same dollar amount in revenue as the prior year. That does not mean taxes decreased, in fact, the revenue-neutral hearing means taxes are increasing because they are taking in more money than they did last year. Yet taxing jurisdictions want to play around with the “mill levy decreasing” as if they “lowered taxes.”

Below is a chart from the Johnson County budget.
They claim “mill levy rollbacks (6 in 7 years) and annual ongoing savings for the County Taxing District” with a cumulative “savings of $95.46 million and a cumulative mill lowering of 2.249 mill.
This is highlighted as if they SAVED the citizens $95.46 million.

This is deception to the public and is taking advantage of the citizens’ lack of understanding of the process.

The budget breakdown tells a different story.
In 2018, property tax revenue was $247,600,000.
In 2024, the proposed property tax revenue is $346,900,000.
Does that look like a $95,460,000 savings?
No! It is a $99,300,000 increase!
That’s a 40% property tax increase, not a cumulative 2.249% tax decrease.

The total 2018 budget including all revenue sources was 1.06 BILLION dollars.
The 2024 proposed budget is 1.790 BILLION dollars.
The total Johnson County budget has increased $730 million in the past 7 years!
That’s a 68.87% increase!

These presentations are just another example of misleading staff reports painting an inaccurate picture of the truth.

The 2015 total budget was $870,110,968 meaning that the Johnson County budget has now officially more than doubled in 10 years’ time.

Did your income double in this time? This is unsustainable.

Although many expenditures have been decided in advance, there are a few areas that can still be addressed tonight.

Let’s look at 4 concerning budget areas from the proposed budget:

  1. Mental Health
  2. Public Health
  3. Library
  4. MARC 911 expenses

Mental Health

The mental health budget has astronomically increased in the past 10 years.

In 2015, the mental health budget was $28,973,842. That number is now proposed to be $59,594,059.

The proposed budget claims the County is estimating reserves of $9.8 million – 16.5% of the annual budget; yet the county policy is to maintain 8%-12% reserve.

Residents need to ask why the drastic increase in spending and why the excessive reserves in the budget. Force them to lower the reserves and the budget.

Public Health

The 2015 Johnson County public health budget was $14,324,771.

The 2024 budget proposal is $26,864,191 with reserves of $7.8 million or 29.2% of the budget.

The County policy allows for a 5% – 10% reserve balance.

Even after subtracting the $600,000 they intend to spend to help offset the salary and benefits study, the reserves are still 26.8% of the budget. This is excessive and should be decreased to match the County policy.


The 2015 Library budget was $23,118,376.

The 2024 proposed budget is $53,827,826 with a $10 million reserve.

That is 18.5% reserves of the allowed 5%-10%.

They claim they will use $6.5 million of the reserves for improvements to Spring Hill and DeSoto libraries, but perhaps these improvements can wait until the economy becomes more stable and inflation isn’t so high. The costs of these improvements in this current inflationary economy will be much higher than they should be, and the people need a break! These improvements could be a potential place for that savings.

Another concerning item is the unbudgeted fund for library gifts to the library board. Remember, this is the same board who is allowing the Marxist American Library Association (ALA) to infiltrate our libraries with questionable political agenda and sexually inappropriate books. How much are the board members receiving in exchange for their cooperation with this agenda or what exactly are they receiving gifts for?

911 Fund and MARC fees

Although there is no mill levy for these funds, it is important for the public to be aware that Johnson County residents are paying $9 million a year to Mid America Regional Council (MARC) to handle the 911 system for the County.

This money could be going to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department which could hire staff to use their existing equipment to handle their own system in-house.

Note that this fund has doubled in the past 2 years.

MARC should not be profiting off of Johnson County residents. This should be an in-house service handled through the sheriff’s office. More on that in a future article but it is included here for reference of the astronomical increases in department spending that benefits those outside of the county.

Although this is only a quick summary of a few areas, it shows that there are places the County could cut spending if they chose to.

Even if you aren’t comfortable speaking about the numbers, please take the time to show up and speak up -even if to only share personal stories of how this is affecting your budget and what cuts you are having to make to stay in your home.

Tell the commissioners to cut spending so the residents have NO MORE TAXES!

Speak up at your school board hearings too! Below is the 2023 spending per student. Budgets are increasing while test scores are decreasing. We have an education problem that we can no longer keep throwing money at. The school boards need to be reigned in before they tax the citizens out of their district.

They claim “It’s for the children” but healthy happy homes are more beneficial for the children. It is reported that the second leading cause of divorce is financial reasons. The school district selfishly causing financial struggles for the parents is not the solution to improving the lives of the children.

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