What a difference a year has made in Johnson County when it comes to approving a responsible budget. A little history:
In 2014, County Manager Hannes Zacharias correctly suggested it was time to approve a small property tax increase and stop cutting county personnel and services to residents.
But a handful of Kansas legislators who call the county home showed up at a public hearing to oppose the increase.
Commission Chairman Ed Eilert, facing a re-election campaign that fall, eventually sided with other commissioners in rejecting the property tax increase.
The status quo prevailed, not a positive move in a rapidly growing county.
Now it’s 2015 and, once again, Zacharias has proposed a boost in the tax levy to maintain county services. In an even bolder move, officials with the county’s library, parks and transit systems have come forward seeking additional increases in the levy.
The eventual result this year could turn out to be far better than it was in 2014.
Last Thursday, Eilert and four other commissioners seized the opportunity to set a maximum budget that would include all of the additional requests, at a cost of about $25 million extra each year.
State lawmakers ought to stop from meddling in the county budget this year. They just passed the largest tax increase in state history. Who are they to come in to lecture the county for wanting to spend local tax dollars for local priorities?
County leaders have laid out reasonable ways to use extra tax dollars to benefit citizens. The County Commission has ample reasons to approve the higher tax levy in August.