Expansion plans for the county library, parks and transit system are moving forward, as Johnson County commissioners have given preliminary approval to the first property tax rate increase in close to a decade.
The County Board of Commissioners in Johnson County, Kansas, is considering expansion plans for a package of improvements to transit, libraries and parks.
“This plan addresses the needs of a range of Johnson County citizens,” said Commission Steve Klika. “Quality amenities are an important asset in Johnson County, and improved public transit is part of that equation.”
This proposed bus expansion would increase frequency in the service and provide better connections to employers, higher education and retail shopping.
Also important, Johnson County’s most vulnerable population could be about to get a helping hand.
The new transit service under consideration by County Commission would give the elderly, the less affluent and riders with disabilities more ability to get around the region.
In yet another step toward building a regional transit network, the county may remove a restriction that limits Special Edition riders to leaving Johnson County only for a doctor’s visit. The change could mean about 10,200 more trips a year for the county’s Special Edition service, which provides public transportation to eligible Johnson County residents. The service is available to anyone older than 65, riders with disabilities or anyone meeting certain low-income requirements.
Further, the proposal calls for the county to sell vouchers for taxi services that would be good for 15-miles one way. Riders traveling farther would have to make up the difference. The vouchers would be sold to Special Edition riders with a portion earmarked for anyone who lives outside its service area, which in Johnson County is the area east of Kansas 7 and north of 159th Street.
The expanded Special Edition service is part of a major plan to improve bus service in Johnson County. The Johnson County Commission is planning step up big for public transportation with a proposed budget that funnels about $1.5 million in new money into transit. Among other things, Johnson County is looking at increasing the frequency on some routes and extending service westward along 95th Street to Renner Boulevard in Lenexa and northward from Mission to the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.The proposal also would provide better connections to trendy new shopping locales at Prairiefire and Corbin Park in Overland Park and more service to Johnson County Community College.
The plan is now before the Johnson County Commission. A public hearing on the 2016 budget will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 27, at in Commission Chambers, 111 S Cherry Street, Olathe, Kan. The BOCC is scheduled to adopt the budget resolution during its business session on Thursday, August 13, beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the Hearing Room. According to state statute, the County’s new budget must be approved and filed with the County Clerk by August 25.