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Observer Corps Report

Eileen Marshall | Published on 2/1/2022

Johnson County Board of Commissioners

Johnson County Board of County Commissioners

Meeting dates: Dec. 16, 2021 through Jan. 6, 2022 (most recent appears first)

Observers: Lenore Rowe, Joan Gilson, Jerry Gilson, Kathleen Morrow, Rebecca James

 

 

Go to https://boccmeetings.jocogov.org/onbaseagendaonline, to see meetings online. Seating in the meeting room is limited because of COVID. Information on the pandemic is available at  https://jocogov.org/County-services-impacted-covid-19.

 

Jan. 6, 2022

 

Chairperson Eilert signed letters of agreement for street repairs with the cities of Gardner, Merriam, Mission Hills, Roeland Park and Westwood. Letters of agreement were also signed with Leawood and Overland Park for Storm Water projects.

 

After hearing from Drs. LeMaster and Areola that the local positivity rate is at least 22.3%, and “the grim news of over 1,000 deaths,” sitting as the Board of Health, the Commissioners heard over 18 public comments supporting a mask mandate, 15 comments against. Children’s Mercy Hospital has over 700 positive tests this week, and all local health systems are under stress, reporting unprecedented numbers of infection and staff illness. Commissioner O’Hara offered a motion providing an opt-out option for school districts, which failed by a 5-2 vote.

 

Commissioner Hanzlick asked for a discussion about expanding the mandate. Commissioner Meyers stated that in light of data indicating a serious situation with the Omicron variant, the mandate should be expanded. Arguments in favor of the expansion cited the need to keep schools and businesses open, students healthy and employees able to work. Arguments against the expansion included the right of individual choice, and the need for other government bodies (school districts) to act for their own districts. Commissioner Hanzlick made a motion to apply the order to include grades up to and including 12th grade. Commissioner Meyers seconded the motion. The motion failed, No: Ashcraft, Eilert, Allenbrand, O’Hara; Yes: Meyer, Hanzlick, Fast. 

        

Chairperson Eilert made a motion to continue Health Order 001.21, requiring masks for grades K-6, to be renewed now and reviewed in six weeks. The motion passed: No, Ashcraft, O’Hara. Yes, Eilert, Allenbrand, Fast, Hanzlick, and Meyers.

 

The Board approved an agreement with the City of Olathe for the improvement of Lackman Road from 159th Street to 167th Street with CARS Reserves and the Federal Fund Exchange Account. Also approved: A services agreement with EVERFI for $105,060 annually, expiring Dec. 31, 2024 to sponsor mental health and prevention education in all public school classrooms across Johnson County.

 

The County Assistant Manager reported on the COVID-19 fund disbursement, complete now at $116,513,263.24 for PPE, tests, vaccine clinics and more to County offices (Library, Wastewater, Mental Health, Public Works, et al.) This grant from the Coronavirus Aid Relief & Economic Security Act, CARES Act Direct Allocation (CRF) is now exhausted.

 

The Board approved an additional $2,000 in legal fees for the Charter Commission for advice concerning their charge.

 

Commissioner Hanzlick praised Project 10-20, a service organization for those without permanent homes, which also provides COVID-19 testing, meals and shelter.

 

The district court will be operating under COVID-19 restrictions effective until at least mid-February.

 

Dec. 23 and 30, 2021

 

These meetings were canceled because of the holiday.

 

Dec. 16, 2021

 

Davis Hammet of Loud Light of Kansas commented that the Master Plan to move the Election Office to Gardner, Kansas (which will probably be changed to District 2 as a result of redistricting) would result in making it outside the voting area for most of the residents it serves.

 

The Board voted to authorize an exception to competition and services agreement with Overflow Storytelling Lab, LLC to provide a story campaign and community mobilization efforts for Phase 4 of the #ZEROREASONSWHY campaign in an amount not to exceed $140,000 for the contract period ending Dec. 31.

 

The Board approved the 2022 Audit Plan proposed by the Interim County Auditor.

 

The Board voted to settle claims with Johnson and Johnson and others and to assign a memorandum of understanding assigning future opioid settlements to the Kansas attorney general. Seventy-five percent of settlement funds are to be deposited in the Kansas Fights Addiction Act fund and 25% will be deposited in the Municipalities Fight Addiction fund.

 

The Board voted to purchase a site in the City of Lenexa for future use as a Med-Act station and a second site in Overland Park for the County’s Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Program, authorizing the reallocation and use of Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 General Fund reserves in the amount of $2,290,000 to fund the purchase of the two properties for this use. This purchase will expand our options for reducing waste in landfills.

 

The Board approved the 2022 Johnson County State Legislative Platform, identifying five priorities:

  1. Support increased funding for mental health services.

  2. Support Medicaid expansion in Kansas. 

  3. Support legislation to collect compensating use tax from purchases made from sellers with no physical presence in Kansas.

  4. Support expanding the eligibility of the Homestead Act and SAFESR – Kansas Property Tax Relief for Low Income Seniors.

  5. Support dedicated funding of a comprehensive transportation plan including highways, airports, trails, and transit.

Johnson County 2021 Charter Commission

Dec. 13, 2021, 4:00 p.m.

Submitted by Alleen VanBebber and Eileen Marshall


Meeting was held in person at the KU Edwards Campus, with some members attending via Zoom, and was viewable by the public both in-person and via Facebook Live. Roll call – 20 members present, 3 joined soon thereafter

Summary:

The group gave 4 proposed amendments a second reading. (Remember that a proposed amendment must receive at least 9 Yes votes in order to move on to a second reading. The second reading then happens at a subsequent meeting, with a vote on that amendment at yet a later meeting. To become a recommended amendment, an item must receive at least 13 Yes votes at this stage.) No votes were taken at this meeting. As of the end of this meeting, the following is the status of the 10 remaining proposed amendments:

  • 2 amendments are purely cleanup and do not affect how the county operates and have been held for later consideration.
  • 1 amendment, proposing the “unincorporated trustee” has received a first reading, but the second reading has been postponed for legal opinion.
  • 5 amendments have received a second reading and are due for a vote.
  • 2 amendments are scheduled to receive a second reading at the next meeting.

Details of what was discussed (underlining indicates exact wording of proposal):

The Board of County Commissioners shall form a standing Health and Safety Advisory Council (HSAC) that will provide guidance when the BOCC acts as the Board of Health or exercises other emergency powers related to issues of public health and safety. The HSAC shall be composed of representatives from accredited health professions, colleges & universities, K-12 school districts, local Federally Qualified Health Center, businesses, as well as professional health interest groups as determined by the BOCC, including but not limited to, physicians, patients, caregivers, pharmacies, hospitals, schools, non-profit and religious organizations, first responders, and the general public. The Directors of the Health & Environment Department and Emergency Management Department shall serve as ex-officio members of the HSAC. Each District Commissioner of the BOCC and the County Sheriff shall appoint one member to the HSAC. The Chair of the County Commission shall appoint two members to the HSAC. The HSAC may be expanded to include other disciplines as the BOCC deems appropriate. Members of the HSAC shall serve three-year terms and are not subject to term limits.

This revised proposal was brought by Commissioners Peterson, Koesten, and Shelton. Its intent is to have a standing council to advise the BOCC on issues of public health and safety. Some felt that public acceptance of BOCC actions during the pandemic might have been improved if such an advisory council had existed. Discussion included whether the County Department of Health and Environment was already proposing something similar; defining the scope of the proposed council and what is meant by “emergency powers”; whether this is a proper addition to the Charter (as the BOCC presumably has the power to appoint such a council already); and whether it is needed.

The County Manager shall appoint or hire, with simple majority approval of the BOCC, the non-elected director of each department whose principal officer reports to the County Manager. The County Manager shall also suspend or dismiss all non-elected directors, except as provided by law or this Charter.

This revised proposal was brought by Commissioner Klingensmith in an attempt to bring more oversight to the hiring authority of the County Manager. The discussion centered on whether this makes for better or worse management of the county.

Delete all text from Section 2.05 ("Compensation") and replace with the following: Each Commissioner and the Chair shall be offered an annual salary set at the 2021 salary amount, adjusted annually at the lesser rate of (a) the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) for the trailing 12 months; and (b) four percent (4%). The first adjustment shall occur in January 2023 for the 2023 year. They shall be offered non-cash employee benefits commensurate with those offered to County management employees.

This was a slightly revised proposal brought by Commissioner Mikkelson, in an attempt to begin raising the salaries of county commissioners, who have not had a raise in over a decade. Some members were concerned about the possibility of commissioners receiving a raise in a year when other county employees might not and the morale issues that would ensue. 

Change the election status of the sheriff's position to a nonpartisan race.

This was the second reading of this amendment, brought by Commissioners Koesten and Schwach. Opinions seem well-ingrained on this issue, and the arguments were the same as before.

The meeting was adjourned shortly after 6:00.

Next meeting: Monday, Dec. 22, 4:00 p.m. – JOCO Administration building.


Johnson County 2021 Charter Commission

Dec. 22, 2021, 4:00 p.m.

Submitted by Alleen VanBebber and Eileen Marshall


Meeting was held in person at the Johnson County Admin Building, with some members attending via Zoom, and was viewable by the public both in-person and via Facebook Live. Roll call – 23 members present, 2 absent

Summary:

The group gave three proposed amendments a second reading. (Remember that a proposed amendment must have received at least nine Yes votes in order to move on to a second reading. The second reading then happens at a subsequent meeting, with a vote on that amendment at yet a later meeting. To become a recommended amendment, an item must receive at least 13 Yes votes at this stage.) Votes on four proposals were taken at this meeting, and one was withdrawn due to adverse legal opinion. As of the end of this meeting, the following is the status of the 5 remaining proposed amendments:

Two amendments are purely cleanup and do not affect how the county operates and have been held for later consideration.

Three amendments have received a second reading and are due for a vote.


Details of what was discussed (underlining indicates exact wording of proposal):

Elected Position – Unincorporated Trustee – submitted new wording:

Amendment mandating that the Johnson County Planning and Zoning Commission, with the advice and consent of the Township Trustees, spend certain monies from the general fund, reserves, and public works funds of Johnson County, Kansas on the maintenance and upkeep of roads, bridges, culverts, and overall capital improvement in the unincorporated areas of Johnson County, Kansas.

This was the first time this restatement of Randy Hutchins’ suggested amendment (previously known as “unincorporated Trustee”) had been viewed and discussed by the Charter Commission. The underlying issue is the same, i.e., the view that the unincorporated areas are not receiving a fair share of road maintenance. Although some members seemed to have some sympathy for the issue, most had questions about how it would work, and where the money would come from. It has been referred to Foulson for a legal opinion.

BOCC Chair election:

At Section 2.02, the fourth sentence shall be deleted and replaced with the following: “Six Commissioners shall continue to be elected to four-year terms consistent with past practice. The Seventh District Commissioner elected in November 2022 shall be elected to a five-year term, after which term the Seventh District Commissioner shall thereafter be elected to four-year terms beginning in November 2027.”

This was the second reading of Eric Mikkelson’s proposal that would allow any incumbent County Commissioner to run for the Seventh District (which is the Chair) without having to give up his/her own seat in order to run. Some Charter Commission members spoke against it based on having such an important position elected in an off-year, when turnout is low. The proposal was referred for a legal opinion.

Language cleanup:

I do not have the exact language for this proposal by Paula Schwach. However, it is updating language in the Charter in order to do the following:

  1. Explicitly state that the BOCC reviews the budget of the Sheriff’s department and that the DA’s office and the Sheriff’s department both follow the administrative policies set by the BOCC for all departments of County government.

  2. Explicitly state that the County Treasurer, Register of Deeds, and County Clerk are appointed by the County Manager. They are currently listed in the Charter under the heading “Elected Positions,” and this revision would separate them into a section called “Appointed Positions.”

There seems to be a lot of resistance to this amendment based on the fact that it is language cleanup and does not change anything that is currently happening, and no one wants to put it before the voters if there is no other amendment to be voted on. Some of the resistance may also have to do with general sensitivity to the “elected v appointed” issue. 

FINAL VOTES

BOCC Vacancies

All vacancies on the Board of County Commissioners shall be filled at the next scheduled election unless the next scheduled election is within 90 days of the position becoming vacant.

This was DEFEATED by a vote of 14-9.

Public Health Advisory Board

The Board of County Commissioners shall form a standing Health and Safety Advisory Council (HSAC) that will provide strategic guidance when the BOCC acts as the Board of Health or exercises other emergency powers related to issues of public health and safety. The HSAC shall be composed of representatives from accredited health professions, colleges & universities, K-12 school districts, local Federally Qualified Health Center, businesses, as well as professional health interest groups as determined by the BOCC, including but not limited to, physicians, patients, caregivers, pharmacies, hospitals, schools, non-profit and religious organizations, law enforcement, first responders, and the general public. 

The Directors of the Health & Environment Department and Emergency Management Department shall serve as ex-officio members of the HSAC. Each District Commissioner of the BOCC and the County Sheriff shall appoint one member to the HSAC. The Chair of the County Commission shall appoint two members to the HSAC. The HSAC may be expanded to include other disciplines as the BOCC deems appropriate. Members of the HSAC shall serve three-year terms and are not subject to term limits.

This proposal was DEFEATED by a vote of 16-7.

BOCC oversight on hiring

The County Manager shall appoint or hire, with simple majority approval of the BOCC, the non-elected director of each department whose principal officer reports to the County Manager. The County Manager shall also suspend or dismiss all non-elected directors, except as provided by law or this Charter.

The proposal was DEFEATED by a vote of 16-7.

BOCC Salary increase

Each Commissioner and the Chair shall be offered an annual salary set at the 2021 salary amount, adjusted annually at the lesser rate of (a) two percent (2%); (b) the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) for the trailing 12 months; or (c) the average budgeted increase percentage for all county employees. The first adjustment shall occur in January 2023 for the 2023 year. They shall be offered employee benefits commensurate with those offered to County management employees.

This proposal was DEFEATED with a vote of 12-11. 

Partisan/non-partisan

Change the election of the sheriff’s position to a nonpartisan race.

This proposal is contrary to state law and therefore is WITHDRAWN.


The meeting was adjourned shortly before 6:00.

Next meeting: Monday, Jan. 8, 4:00 p.m. – KU Edwards Campus BEST Conference Center.


Johnson County 2021 Charter Commission

Jan. 10, 2022, 4:00 p.m.

Submitted by Alleen VanBebber and Eileen Marshall


Meeting was held in person at the KU Edwards Campus, with some members attending via Zoom, and was viewable by the public both in-person and via Facebook Live. Roll call – 24 members present, one arrived shortly thereafter.

Summary:

Votes on two proposals were taken at this meeting, and one other was withdrawn and resubmitted as a recommendation. As of the end of this meeting, there are NO remaining proposed amendments to be considered; all have been defeated or withdrawn.

Remember that the Charter Commission can also make recommendations to the BOCC. These are purely recommendations, are non-binding, and are not required to be put before the voters, as amendments would be.


Details (underlining indicates exact wording of proposal):

Elected Position – Unincorporated Trustee – submitted new wording:

Amendment mandating that the Johnson County Planning and Zoning Commission, with the advice and consent of the Township Trustees, spend certain monies from the general fund, reserves, and public works funds of Johnson County, Kansas on the maintenance and upkeep of roads, bridges, culverts, and overall capital improvement in the unincorporated areas of Johnson County, Kansas.

This item was withdrawn as an amendment and resubmitted by Randy Hutchins as a recommendation with revised wording within the last couple of days. Therefore, its current form was not available to the members in advance, and they decided to discuss it at the next meeting.

BOCC Chair election:

At Section 2.02, the fourth sentence shall be deleted and replaced with the following: “Six Commissioners shall continue to be elected to four-year terms consistent with past practice. The Seventh District Commissioner (Chair) shall be elected to six-year terms, starting with the term beginning after the November 2022 election.

This was a revision of Eric Mikkelson’s proposal that would allow any incumbent County Commissioner to run for the Seventh District (which is the Chair) without having to give up his/her own seat in order to run. (Currently, the Chair is elected at the same election at which Commissioners from districts 1, 2, and 4 are elected.) At the second reading (last meeting), the proposal was to put the Seventh District Commissioner’s election in odd-numbered years so as not to coincide with the other Commissioners’ elections. The Foulson firm’s legal opinion regarding the former wording was that having the election of this Commissioner in odd-numbered years is inconsistent with state law. This revision, then, puts the BOCC Chair’s election in the same years as districts 1,2, and 4 half the time and districts 3,5, and 6 the other half, beginning with November 2022. Instead of removing the unfairness, it spreads it around. Some members expressed concern that a 6-year term is a very long time for a local elected official. The amendment was DEFEATED, 18-7.

Application of BOCC Policies to Sheriff and District Attorney:

Modify Article V as Follows:

  1. Modify Section 5.02, bullet 1, sentence 2 to read as follows: “Except as provided by law or this Charter, the County Manager shall appoint, suspend, or dismiss all non-elected department directors and division heads, including the County Clerk, the Register of Deeds, and the County Treasurer. The statutory duties of the County Clerk shall be performed by, or as necessary, consolidated under the authority of and as delegated and assigned by the County Manager. The Statutory duties of the Register of Deeds shall be performed by the County Clerk, or, as necessary, consolidated under the authority of and as delegated and assigned by the County Manager. The Statutory duties of the County Treasurer shall be performed by, or, as necessary, consolidated under the authority of and as delegated and assigned by the County Manager.” 

  2. Modify Section 5.05 by deleting bullets 1,2,3, and redraft the remaining provisions, subject to read as follows: “Sheriff shall be elected, subject to amendments as provided or allowed by law. The Commissioners shall review and approve the Sheriff’s budget. The Sheriff’s office is subject to the personnel policies and procedures established by the BOCC and all other administrative policies adopted by the Commission to the extent non inconsistent with law. While the District Attorney of the 10th judicial district is not a county official, this elected state position shall comply with administrative policies adopted by the Commission to the extent not inconsistent with law.”

This was a proposal by Paula Schwach to make explicit what is currently happening in county government. She was concerned that so many citizens who spoke to the Charter Commission appeared to be misinformed or unclear about the duties and responsibilities of the Sheriff, in particular, vis a vis the BOCC. This revised language also clarifies that the County Clerk, Register of Deeds, and County Treasurer are appointed by the County Manager and not elected. Chair Musil appeared to sum up the other members’ opinions when he stated that he would not know how to explain this amendment to the voters and, given today’s political climate, would expect widespread confusion and suspicion if it were to appear on the ballot. The amendment was DEFEATED 21-4.

Language cleanup:

There was one final language cleanup proposal by Paula Schwach. It was withdrawn due to lack of any other proposed amendments to go before the voters.


Proposed Recommendations

Reorganize sub-commissions not currently under the direct control of the elected County Commissioners and the Charter Commission to a structure that is.

This recommendation was made by Randy Hutchins and appears to be an attempt to “rein in” the Parks and Recreation Board. Mr. Hutchins was unable to clearly state which “sub-commissions” currently exist and exactly what he is asking for. (And the Charter Commission controls no sub-commissions, so is irrelevant to this issue.) Chair Musil stated that the Parks and Rec Board, for example, with members appointed by the BOCC, is actually a statutory body, and any attempt to alter its form or status would probably require a change to state law. Mr. Hutchins was unable to answer whether he was recommending the BOCC appeal for a statutory change of that nature. Mr. Hutchins agreed to return with a more specific proposal in time for discussion at the next meeting.

Continued effort to move forward on consolidation of rural fire districts in Johnson County.

This recommendation was made by Karen Brownlee. None of the members appeared to have any idea what she was talking about and asked for background on which to base a vote. County staff will put together the relevant information for the next meeting.

The dialogue with the Charter Commission and the public comments made apparent a lack of public understanding of the balance of authority between the BOCC and the Sheriff’s office. On one hand, the Sheriff is an elected position with some independent statutory authority. On the other hand, this authority is statutorily circumscribed by the general power of the BOCC to review and approve the budget for the operation of the Sheriff’s office.

The Charter Commission recommends that the BOCC budgetary process include and result in:

  1. A clear statement of the statutory duties of the Sheriff’s office;

  2. A line-item budget which identifies funds required to meet those statutory duties;

  3. A line-item budget which identifies funds for discretionary programs and projects;

  4. A budget total which combines the two and which may not be exceeded without additional approval of the BOCC.

This was proposed by Paula Schwach, but it was unclear how or whether this is any different from the current process. Again, county staff will prepare some relevant information for the next meeting.

The chair asked for all revisions, information, and further topics for consideration to be turned in to the county staff by close of business Thursday, Jan. 20 so that all members will have time to review and prepare before the next meeting. The chair asked for volunteers to help draft and edit the report required for the BOCC. The charter-imposed deadline for the Charter Commission to submit its final report is March 1, 2022, but the last meeting of the BOCC in February is Feb. 24, so the report will need to be completed and turned in by then.

The meeting was adjourned shortly before 6:00.

Next meeting: Monday, Jan. 26, 4:00 p.m. – KU Edwards Campus BEST Conference Center.

To learn more, click here.


Johnson County Mental Health Center (MHC) Advisory Board 

Nov. 22, 2021, in-person at the Mission Office.

Submitted by Harry and Mary Bognich


Director Tim DeWeese provided brief descriptions of the 49 Items within the Strategic Goals and Objectives for 2022 (and into 2023).


JoCo Commissioners did approve additional funding for more mental health workers.


Funding for a 9-8-8 hotline number for suicide prevention will become a hot topic next year, especially since it would impact telecommunications companies so there could be some resistance.


JoCo MHC has been positioning itself over the last 7 years to become a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) and is hoping to make a request in January 2022 to the State to become one. One big advantage is that a CCBHC can benefit “from a Prospective Payment System (PPS) -- a Medicaid payment methodology that allows providers to be reimbursed based on their anticipated costs of offering CCBHC services. PPS allows providers to establish an average, daily or monthly encounter rate that is inclusive of all current and anticipated costs of care as a CCBHC, including new service lines, staff salaries, technology costs, services delivered outside the four walls of the clinic, and more” (per the National Council for Mental Wellbeing). This is vastly better than the fee-based system the MHC must currently use, because very often the fees do not really match up to the actual costs (they fall short).


The Federal Vaccine Mandate is going to be a challenge for the MHC, especially in the Operations and Residential Staff areas. The percent of unvaccinated is only about 7% of the total staff, but many of those 7% are clustered in those two areas, unfortunately.


Next meeting is Jan. 24, 2022 at the Mission office.


To learn more, click here.


Water One Board  

Dec. 14, 2021

Submitted by Annette Becker

Short meeting this month. Lots of passing of the budget and other expenditures. Recognition of Brenda Cherpitel who has served on the Board for 15 years and is the current chair. She is stepping down and was voted in as the first ex officio Board member. They will be welcoming Jill Westra as the newest board member in January.

Water One received an award for the best tasting water in Kansas from the Kansas section of the American Water Works Association. They have received this accolade several times in the past. 


Water One Board Meeting

Jan. 11, 2022

Submitted by Annette Becker

Everyone at Water One was excited about Governor Kelly’s announcement in her State of the State address earlier that evening that the Kansas Water Plan would be fully funded for the first time in 15 years. This plan is one of the primary tools used to address current water resources issues and to plan for future needs. 

The final order of business of the meeting was the introduction of a motion by Whitney Wilson to form a new committee for sustainability. It was passed by a vote of 4-3.

To learn more, click here.


Shawnee Mission School Board

Dec. 13, 2021 

Submitted by Lisa Bonds


The school district's administration provided results on several assessments. The first was the Kansas State Assessment. (The following context was provided. 1]Fewer students took the assessments in 2021. In 2019 only 46 students failed to take the test, but in 2021, the number of students who did not take the test was 1154. 2]Also it was reported that these test scores do not predict success in college.)    The district’s scores on the language arts section were very close to the 2019 scores with 45% of the students receiving 3 or 4 on the assessments. The math results were slightly lower than the 2019 results. 

ACT results were also reported to the board. Admission to a Kansas public university requires a score of 21. The average Shawnee Mission student scored 21.5. This is the lowest in the past twenty years. However some context should be considered; two years ago the state of Kansas started paying for any junior student who wants to take the test. This increased the number of students taking the test. 

The board unanimously approved the next two school year calendars, and approved a food vendor. The board also agreed to pay high school teachers $5,200 a year extra if they are asked to teach six periods a day instead of the five the rest of the staff is required to teach. 


To learn more, click here.


Lenexa City Council

Jan. 4, 2022

Submitted by Ellen Miller

Affordable housing isn’t just finding a new home. It includes keeping the property up. Exterior home repairs can be costly. Reducing owner expenses can make the difference between timely maintenance vs. worsening roofs, windows, driveways and fences. Lenexa has about 13,600 single family homes. For years, the city has offered cost-matching exterior repair grants for homes meeting location, age and appraised value criteria. 

In 2021, 356 Lenexans applied for grants. However, only 11 applications were funded due to budget limits. Their median construction date was 1952; the median appraised value was $175,300. The unusually high ratio of applications to approvals prompted rethinking the program.

On Jan. 4, 2022, Lenexa City Council approved a revamped exterior home repair grant program funded at $45,000 annually. These new criteria should better serve low-to-moderate earners:

  • Maximum appraised value $263,000

  • Maximum year built 1977

  • Eligible properties 2,305

Applications for public-facing and neighborhood enhancement projects get higher priority. The application must include work bids or estimates for a minimum of $2500. Proof of property insurance is required. With some conditions, both single-family and duplex residential properties are eligible. City staff will determine eligibility and issue needed permits. 

Lenexa’s exterior grant program targets older homes, helping owners maintain housing quality.

For more information contact the Community Development Dept at 913-477-7725 or https://lenexa.com/government/departments___divisions/community_development


Overland Park City Council

Dec. 20, 2021

Submitted by Nancy Allen


The OP City council met Monday, Dec. 6, 2021. All members were present. I attended virtually.


  1. Paul Lyons was elected Council President. Committee assignments will be made this week.

  2. Bulky Item Pickup- The city of Overland Park will no longer have city wide, city operated Bulky Item Pickup. 

    1. Residents’ whose trash pickup is managed by a HOA, the bulky item pick up may be coordinated by the HOA. Contact your HOA.

    2. All residents (with or without trash managed by HOA) are asked to contact their trash hauler. 


Overland Park City Council

Jan. 3, 2022

Submitted by Nancy Allen


Hamblin excused and Kite excused

One public comment opposing the proposed opening of a respite house in the Shannon Valley subdivision to assist homeless men who are waiting on space in a rehab center. 

Proclamation- MLK, Jr. Day Jan. 17, 2022 

All attendees to wear masks until at least the end of February.

Exhibitor Magazine named OP the best small convention center in North America, for the third year in a row.

Ribbon cutting ceremony at Oak Park Mall for the SMWest student world learning storefront. 

Large increase in quarantine among city employees. Masking protocol reinstated indoors in city offices--due to workforce issues. One hospitalized employee at this time. 

To learn more, click here.


Prairie Village City Council

Dec. 20, 2021

Submitted by Nancy Kalikow Maxwell


The Prairie Village City Council met in a hybrid format (both in-person and virtually) on 

Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. Representatives from First Washington Realty provided an update on improvements made and plans forthcoming for their commercial properties in the city. 


Following discussion, a motion to direct staff to draft a mask ordinance was defeated on a vote of 5-7. The Council also approved the 2022 legislative platform that includes support for the legalization of marijuana and its derivatives. On a vote of 4 yes and 8 no, they declined to restrict this support to medical marijuana only.


Prairie Village City Council

Jan. 3, 2022

Submitted by Nancy Kalikow Maxwell


The Prairie Village City Council met in a hybrid format (both in-person and virtually) on 

Monday, Jan. 3, 2022. Sunny Sanwar from Dynamhex provided an update to answer questions raised previously about that company’s carbon emissions tracking system. He assured Council members that residents’ privacy is maintained even though the system tracks individual energy usage. The mayor reported that the city’s end-of-year finances look good, with expenses under budget and revenue above expectations, with a detailed analysis to be available in the near future. 


Acting as the Committee of the Whole, the Council voted to continue the Exterior Grant and Sustainability Grant Projects with no major changes. 


Following an extensive discussion about future efforts the city could take to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Council voted to direct staff to spend up to $5,000 to purchase 100 COVID-19 test kits, with distribution procedures to be determined. The Council will also invite representatives from the Johnson County Commission to a future meeting to discuss mitigation strategies and will have staff draft a letter to that body urging further actions in that regard.


To learn more, click here.