Johnson County’s elected officials are getting closer to supporting needed upgrades in services to residents.
On Thursday, the County Commission is scheduled to establish the maximum property tax levy it could possibly put in place for the 2016 budget.
That’s a critical decision, because it means the commission will be tipping its hand on whether it’s going to invest more money in parks, libraries and transit.
So far, it appears four members of the seven-member commission are willing to have that conversation and — by later this summer — possibly approve a final county budget that would include extra money for those important services.
The four are Commission Chairman Ed Eilert and commissioners Jim Allen, Steve Klika and Ron Shaffer. They deserve credit for being willing to consider raising the county’s mill levy rate for the first time since 2006.
County Manager Hannes Zacharias has proposed a small rate increase simply to keep current, basic services intact. That’s an essential move after years of cutbacks in county workers.
In addition, supporters of the Park and Recreation District, Johnson County Library and The JO are hoping the commission will approve mill levy increases to benefit their organizations.
The three groups have outlined solid ways they would use extra funds to provide more park amenities, new or renovated libraries, and expanded bus service.
Johnson County needs to seize the chance to provide a higher quality of life for residents. A bold decision to bolster important public services would be a step in that direction.