Allenbrand talks property values, truck traffic with fire board

Johnson County 6th District Commissioner Shirley Allenbrand discussed county property values and provided other updates to Johnson County Fire District No. 1 board members at their monthly meeting last week.

Among the items Allenbrand discussed during the March 14 meeting were county appraisal values, which have continued to trend upward for the 2023 valuation year. In Johnson County, 90 percent of residential property values increased on average by about 12 percent, excluding sales and new construction. Approximately 42 percent of residential property owners saw their values change by 10 percent or less, while others had a reduction in value.

Nearly all of the 6th District, which includes Gardner, Edgerton, DeSoto and the western edge of Olathe, saw final 2023 property values change somewhere between 8 percent and nearly 11 percent, on average.

Allenbrand said she knew board members were aware of the 2023 county appraisal figures, which were released in late February.

“We need to contact our local legislators if we are upset about those,” she said.

Under Kansas law, property is appraised at fair market value as it stands on Jan. 1. Fair market value is defined as the amount that a reasonably informed buyer is justified in paying and an reasonably informed seller is justified in accepting in an open, competitive market. To remain in compliance, the county appraiser must appraise homes within 90 percent to 110 percent of their value, county officials said.

Allenbrand also discussed recent changes in procedure at county commission meetings, which were introduced by commission chair Mike Kelly. Commissioners approved the changes earlier this year. Allenbrand said she was hoping to clear up any misunderstanding.

Kelly made changes to how the public comments were handled at the first county commission meeting as newly elected chair in January.

The commission no longer broadcasts public comments online.

“The public comment section of the commission meetings are no longer publicized, and it is for a couple of reasons,” she said.“One is because losing our ability to be on You-Tube and the other was there were a lot of people that were afraid to come to our meetings in person… just felt uncomfortable.”

The public, she said, was welcome to attend meetings and speak on an agenda item at anytime.

“If anybody has any situation they want me to put on the agenda, contact me, and I would be more than happy to set those meetings up,” she said.

During her presentation, Allenbrand introduced Assistant Johnson County Manager Joe Connor to the board.

Connor told board members he was familiarizing himself with the fire district.

“I kind of hear you on some of the budget preparations,” he said. “I pledge to help make sure you get all the best information you have, and I will walk you through that personally and make sure your budgets are prepared.”

Connor said the county and the fire board would work together to ensure there were no surprises much like those last year surrounding the consolidation of the former Johnson County Fire District No. 2.

“Nobody likes surprises,” he said.

Allenbrand said she looked forward to scheduling an upcoming study session with the fire board.

“There are a lot of things we can share,” she said.

Randy Gregoryck, fire board president, said he would take Allenbrand up on her offer.

Speaking on behalf of her neighbors, board member Connie Schmidt questioned county officials about West 199th Street and Clare Road, just northwest of Spring Hill, where semitrailer traffic has been the subject of ongoing discussion and a source of frustration.

Allenbrand said 187 signs limiting semitrailer traffic from the Intermodal were installed so far on West 199th Street and more were planned.

Schmidt said trucks were still occasionally driving on West 199th Street, and the signs appear to have made the truck traffic better for the area.

“It is a terrible, terrible, terrible, dangerous road,” she said.

Schmidt also asked about possible construction and improvements to the roadway leading into Spring Hill.

Connor said there was a project planned to widen West 199th Street and add shoulders. The project was developed prior to the recent truck traffic changes.

Fire District No. 1 Chief Dennis Meyers said the fire department would still have good access around the area.

Allenbrand said the county was caught offguard and West 199th Street was slotted to be four lanes. The county had already condemned some properties and had been ready to go with future projects in 2020.

“I think having a good plan in place for the entire 6th District – with Panasonic coming in, all the housing coming in – trying to stay on top of it,” she said. “There is going to have to be a better answer.”