Major changes to Johnson County Charter rejected

The Johnson County Charter Commission on Monday rejected proposed major charter amendments, making it unlikely the group will recommend putting any changes to voters next year.

The group voted 12-9 to reject expanding the Johnson County Board of Commissioners from seven to nine members.

The commission also rejected a proposal that would have let voters roll back county real estate property tax increases. A proposal to allow a voter initiative on retaining sales taxes was voted down as well.

The 25-member charter commission convenes every 10 years and votes whether to recommend changes to the Johnson County Board of Commissioners, which can put the proposals on the ballot.

The commission had voted previously to reject a return to partisan elections.

All that remains to be voted on are minor proposed changes involving how the Board of Commissioners replaces departing board members and changes related to the role of the board’s chairman. Charter Commission Chairman Frank Taylor and Jean Wise, vice chair, said the group is unlikely to push forward with those.

The commission on Monday did pass two resolutions. One measure recommended that the Board of Commissioners consider pressing for a state law change to better protect whistle-blowers. Another measure recommended that the board look at ways to consolidate city and county operations to save money.

The group will meet through January and prepare majority and minority reports for the Board of Commissioners.

Bernard Bianchino, a businessman who proposed the tax measures that failed, will be part of the minority report. He said he has no regrets.

“I think having the discussion and putting the issues before the (charter) commission was important,” he said.

The extensive changes proposed by the commission came under attack at public hearing in October, where a crowd of 200 or more denounced the ideas.