County Update: County Chair Ed Eilert looks at the history of the current structure of JoCo government

Jay Senter - July 10, 2019 11:00 am
County Chair Ed Eilert.

Each week we provide a member of the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners the opportunity to share an update on what issues are catching their attention. This week, we have a column from Commission Chair Ed Eilert.

The current structure of Johnson County Government was formed as a result of a Home Rule Charter passed by the Kansas Legislature. The Johnson County Charter Commission was formed in 1999 and convened in May to study the structure of Johnson County Government and to make recommendations for improvement. In May 2000, the Charter Commission submitted its report and proposed Home Rule Charter for Johnson County with two alternative provisions.

Johnson County voters approved and adopted the charter on Nov. 7, 2000 along with the two alternative provisions. The charter provisions became effective on the second Thursday of January 2001.

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Alternative one was to increase the number of commissioners from five to seven; adding one district commissioner and the seventh to be countywide and that position would serve as chair of the commission. Alternative two would provide the election of the seven commission seats on a nonpartisan ballot.

Article IV states, the commission shall appoint based on education and public administrative experience a professional county manager, who shall be the chief administrative officer of the county and shall be responsible to the commission for administration of all Johnson County Government affairs, including responsibility for the daily administrative functions of county government.

Article II, Section 2.07 contains this prohibition: no commission member shall directly interfere with the conduct of any agency or a department or any part thereof, including the appointment or removal of any employee, except at the express direction of the commission or as otherwise provided by the charter.

Section 5.05 of Article 5 changed three county-elected positions to administrative appointments under the responsibility of the county manager. Those elected positions were: County Clerk, Register of Deeds and County Treasurer. The County Clerk and Register of Deeds responsibilities are now part of the Records and Tax Administration Department. The County Treasurer responsibilities are part of the Treasury and Financial Management Department.

Section 6.04 of Article VI speaks to future Charter Commissions. A Charter Commission composed and appointed as provided by state statue shall be created within 30 days of a date that follows by 10 years the effective date of this charter and at least once every 10 years thereafter.

Each Charter Commission is empowered to conduct comprehensive studies of any or all of county government operations. On or before a date which follows by one year the organization meeting of each Charter Commission, a report of the Charter Commission’s findings shall be presented to the Board of County Commissioners.

County commissioners shall consider all suggested changes, as allowed by law, of the Charter Commission. It shall submit all proposed Charter amendments to the electorate. A Charter Commission was composed in January of 2011 and issued its report to Board of County Commissioners on Jan. 31, 2012 with no changes recommended.

If you are interested in reading the complete adopted charter, please go to jocogov.org. Under Government click on Board of County Commissioners, then About BOCC and then Charter Commission. Click Home Rule Charter for the full charter transcript. You will also be able to access other documents concerning Charter Commission activities.

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