Homeowners Struggle to afford staying in Johnson County; while County Commissioners are set to approve a $15.3 million County Salary increase, with as much as a 20-30% increase for the highest payroll positions and as little as 1.9% for the lower payroll positions

June 28, 2023

by Jennifer Williams

The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners will be presented with an agenda item tomorrow entitled Resolution No. 055-23. Consider approving and adopting Resolution No. 055-23 modifying the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Budget Resolution No. 064-22 and approving a modified 2023 Johnson County (JC) Pay Table representing an average change of 6.1%;

When reviewing the details in the supporting documents, it’s easy to see that the 6.1% average is misleading. In fact, those who are earning the least amount on the pay table are only getting as little as 1.9% increase. Meanwhile the top bracket is getting an average 22.5% increase.

The reasoning the County is using for this massive tax hike of over $15.3 million per year is to be competitive in the market because they are having trouble finding staff.

Let me state the obvious. Government jobs are not supposed to make more than the private sector. Government work is known for good healthcare and retirement, but struggling homeowners in the County should not be paying salaries for attorneys and directors that rival salaries of partners and CEO’s in major corporations.

According to openpayrolls.com, the Johnson County Manager Penny Postoak currently makes $315,732. At the 28th bracket payscale, she would be receiving a 22.5% raise for an additional $71,040.  I believe her salary to be excessive before the increase, but now she will be pushing $400,000 on the backs of struggling citizens who are just trying to buy food, pay mortgages, take care of their families, and make ends meet.

How does this upper-bracket pay increase for jobs that are already staffed help fill the positions of the open jobs?  I’m sure there are plenty of qualified individuals who would do the job for half that. Yet the staff report is encouraging the Board of County Commissioners to approve this pay increase across-the-board, by calling it a 6.1% average increase. This recommendation has been reviewed by the financial planning and legal department. They all agree that their over-paid colleagues (and themselves) should continue to pad their pockets and steal from the citizens.

Of course it will pass.  The “5-2 crew” will swoon over “staff recommendations” and rubber-stamp whatever they’re told to do. In the words of Shirley Allenbrand, “I wish the elected officials would just stay out of it and leave it to the staff with degrees.” Or as Jeff Meyers says, “I rely heavily on staff recommendations.”

Neither of these commissioners, both up for re-election in 2024, are free-thinkers who believe their duty is to represent the interests of their constituents. They believe their job is to allow the bureaucracy to run the government while ignoring the pleas of the taxpayers. These comments should be a violation of their oath of office, but you’ll never hear their legal department say that because they’re all in it together.

Your Johnson County government has been infiltrated, Saul Alinsky-style, where they can change and control policy from the inside, without a vote from the citizens. While the people are focused on making changes at the ballot box, the staff is given carte blanche in most areas. When a vote is required, the “we have to do what staff says” representatives are paving the way for a complete oligarchy.

If the County really cared about affordable housing, as they mention nearly weekly, they would recognize how their continual tax increases are making housing unaffordable for new and lifetime residents. Instead, they would rather have “government housing” where they are in control of the land trust and deciding who gets to live in their 15-minute neighborhoods; while forming 15-member Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion panels (all appointed by Chairman Mike Kelly) to continue to force their political agenda. (also on the agenda for tomorrow.)

If the County really cared about filling open jobs with qualified candidates, they would admit that the majority of their advertised job opportunities are actually more within the pay table which is only getting a 2%-3% increase.

If this was about fairness, the highest pay increases would be going to those making less than $70,000 a year instead of those making $150,000 plus.

In a time when homeowners are faced with making massive spending cuts in order to stay in their homes and put food on the table, the bloated fat cats in your county government are draining residents of another $15.3 million a year, benefitting those recommending the pay increases disproportionately more than those who actually feel the effects of inflation and are struggling.

The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners will hear this item Thursday, June 28, 2023, beginning at 9:30 am. The public will have the opportunity to address this, but you must show up, sign up by 9:10 am, and speak. If you wait until the actual budget hearing in August, it will be too late because the salaries will have already been approved by that point, and they can’t take them back.

Want to make a difference?
Come together and speak up.

Want to see more of the same?
Stay home and do nothing.

Table 1

Table 2

According to this table, there are 266 employees receiving a 20%-30% raise and 111 employees receiving a 10%-20% raise; yet, they smooth it over by advertising a 6.1% “average” increase. Again this is taxpayer-funded and should be criminal at a time when homeowners are trying to keep their heads above water.

According to openpayrolls.com here are some of the top 100 Johnson County government salaries. Note this information may be out of date, but it gives a general idea of who is set to receive the highest dollar increases in pay with the proposed salary increases. Finding the pay scale of each position seemed daunting without an open records request, and there was no time to do that before this article and the vote tomorrow.

Many of these positions seem excessive to me, but in addition to the County Manager that I already mentioned, another that stands out is the librarian. Why does a County librarian need to be making $162,570 to infiltrate our youth with extreme political ideology?

Why are there so many “assistant director” and “deputy director” positions?

While the unincorporated areas of the county become incorporated into cities, the Johnson County government’s role and budget should be getting smaller, not bigger. Hold on folks, because with the new administration believing in larger government control, it’s only going to get worse.
They will also vote tomorrow to publish notice for a hearing exceeding Revenue Neutral, with a proposed 2024 budget of almost $1.8 BILLION. Again, these salary increases will already be approved PRIOR TO that budget meeting. So there’s no going back once they approve this tomorrow.

1Penny PostoakCounty Manager$315,732
8Joe WatersAsst County Manager$205,928
11Joseph ConnorAsst County Manager$201,053
12William NixonChief Information Officer$196,803
13Peggy TrentChief Counsel$194,981
17Chad VonahnenDirector of JoCo Development Supports$185,509
19Thomas FranzenDirector of Treasury, Taxation & Vehicles$182,109
20Susan PekarekGeneral Manager$181,201
22Brent ChristensenDirector of Financial Management$176,470
25Aaron WittChief Engineer$176,261
26Brian PietigPublic Works Director$175,416
27William LopezDeputy Chief Information Officer$173,901
29Timothy DeweeseDirector$172,765
30David BoisvertCounty Appraiser$172,515
31Tiffany HentschelDeputy Director of Human Resources$172,016
32Cynthia DunhamDeputy Director of Legal Services$171,491
36Jay LeipzigAssistant Director of Planning$168,826
41Patricia SuellentropCounty Librarian$162,570
42Aaron OttoExecutive Director of County Airport$162,495
43Robin SymesDeputy Director of Budget and Financial Planning$161,725

UPDATE: The salary increase passed 5-2 as proposed with a separate salary item for the County Manager at $323,670 plus eligibility for future performance bonuses.


  1. Let’s lower the top salaries to help out all homeowners. Salaries over 100K do NOT need to be raised when we are all struggling!

    Please vote NO on this 15.3 million dollar tax increase.

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