Joco Opinion

As I see It — Johnson County is trying new things to communicate with residents

From time to time we at county government ask Johnson County residents some important questions: Are we serving your needs the best we can? Do we communicate to you enough and use the methods you prefer? Do you know what you get for your property tax dollars?

This past March, a county survey revealed facts that caught our attention:

• Many residents are unaware that certain functions, such as the MED-ACT ambulance service or our household hazardous waste collection program, come from Johnson County rather than individual cities.

• 89 percent of residents have never seen a Johnson County Commission meeting and only 7.9 percent have attended a county-hosted public meeting.

• 84 percent of residents are unaware of the county’s social media usage and 65 percent are either unsatisfied or have no opinion about our website.

• 87 percent surveyed said they wanted to know more about the county.

This data tells us there is a need to offer Johnson County residents more opportunities for citizen engagement to not only educate them, but also start conversations with them.

We’ve listened, and here are some results.

Website and social media

Websites and social media channels are cost-effective places to interact with residents, so we’ve recently improved our efforts. We reorganized

based on resident input, unifying most of our department and agency websites into a single platform with a common design and navigation style. Our new website uses responsive design, so it looks good and works well on a desktop, tablet and smartphone. Our new and improved Facebook page and Twitter accounts are great places for ongoing interaction with residents.

JOCO Magazine

At the end of March, residents of 230,000 households opened their mailbox to find the inaugural issue of JOCO Magazine. We’ve already received emails and calls from citizens who appreciated learning about the various programs and services in our Day in the Life cover story, as well as features on county community gardens and a profile on the charming city of Westwood Hills. Expect two more issues in 2014.

Learning about and sharing views on the county budget

If you’ve ever crafted a budget for your household or a work project, you can appreciate the challenge of putting together an annual balanced budget for Johnson County. In the magazine, we began the conversation about the budget with some basic facts about where our revenue comes from and how we spend it.

This month, two more engagement tools continue the conversation:

•  In April, each of our six commissioners will moderate a public forum in his district to engage and educate citizens on the factors that go into determining the annual budget.

• Until May 9, the public can take an online budget simulator and experience what it’s like to make budgetary decisions that affect programs and services and understand how those decisions potentially alter property taxes.

More information on both of these tools is available at


30 Days of JoCo

Right now we’re in the middle of 30 Days of JoCo. Every day in April we have suggested at least one way residents can engage with a county program or service. We think this is a great way for county residents to interact with us on a daily basis or choose the activities that interest them the most. The 30 Days of JoCo calendar appears toward the back of the magazine, and the online calendar with more information is available at


At the direction of the county commission, Johnson County government has made citizen engagement a top priority. Whether you send an email to us with your thoughts on JOCO Magazine, try the budget simulator, Tweet us about something that’s important to you, or all of the above, please talk to us. We’re listening.