Johnson Countians will have plenty of opportunities over the next month to provide their views on a large and needed project: building a new county courthouse.
Officials this week held the first of six public meetings on the issue. Five more are scheduled around the county through April 11.
A full schedule of the open houses, plus more information on the project, can be found at www.jocogov.org/courthouse.
County Commission members properly have decided they would like to ask voters to replace the aging courthouse with a modern, more efficient structure. The cost would be more than $180 million, according to preliminary estimates.
The county has outlined three potential funding plans for the November ballot.
▪ A quarter-cent sales tax for 10 years.
▪ An eighth-cent sales tax plus a property tax increase for 10 years.
▪ A property tax increase for 20 years.
In the past, elected officials have leaned on boosting the sales tax to pay for road and jail projects in Johnson County.
However, when Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature boosted the state sales tax to 6.5 percent in 2015, that also ramped up the total sales tax rates charged in cities throughout the county.
Anti-tax advocates might rally against the new courthouse, while noting that the commission already approved higher property taxes last year to pay for better libraries, parks and public transit.
But that tax increase should prove to be a wise investment in a county growing by 10,000 people a year.
The County Commission also ought to be able to put together a reasonable public financing plan for the new courthouse.
The public meetings should help commissioners find out what residents think about a new courthouse and how they would prefer to pay for it.