Renewing auto tags, registering titles and paying personal property taxes should hit closer to home later this year for residents of Baldwin and southern Douglas County.
Soon residents of Baldwin and the southern Douglas County area no longer will have to make the trek to downtown Lawrence to renew their car tags.
Within the next few months, the Douglas County Treasurer's Office plans to open a satellite office in Baldwin, inside a former coffee shop just two doors down from Baldwin's city hall. Another treasurer's office will open along Lawrence's South Iowa Street by year's end.
"It's to relieve the lines here at courthouse," said Pat Wells, county treasurer. "I'm sure that it will work. It will just take time."
Douglas County commissioners unanimously agreed Monday to spend up to $125,000 this year to get the new offices open.
Additional staff won't be required the remainder of 1999, but Wells did indicate she would seek the commission's OK for an additional office worker beginning in 2000.
The Baldwin office, at 813 Eighth, could open within two months but a written agreement for the space still needs to be worked out, Wells said. Two treasurer's clerks are set to share an office with Baldwin's zoning director, who already occupies space in the building used as an annex for Baldwin's city hall.
The South Iowa location will be inside the former Sears Outlet store at the Park Plaza retail center, 2108 W. 27th. Three or four clerks will be on staff there, Wells said, but an opening date has not been set.
Dan Lund could have used either one Monday.
The Wellsville resident spent one of his vacation days standing in line at the treasurer's office at the Douglas County Courthouse, 11th and Massachusetts. His task: registering a new Ford Expedition.
Going to Baldwin would have cut his 18-mile trip to four miles, he said, and cut his wait in line, as well. His first 28 minutes at the courthouse got him halfway through the 23-person line late Monday morning.
"It'd be great right now," he said. "You could get in and out quick."
Wells and county commissioners hope the new treasurer's office locations will follow up on the success of the office's lone satellite, which opened in 1993 at Dillons, 3000 W. Sixth.
Last year the Dillons office handled motor-vehicle renewals and titles for 21,784 people.
By comparison, the main office in the Douglas County Courthouse, 11th and Massachusetts, served 79,639 people for walkup and mail-in items related to motor vehicles.
Bottom line: The satellite office handled more than one out of every five transactions last year, enough to lessen the load downtown.
"We don't really want any longer lines down there than we have now," said Dean Nieder, chairman of the county commission. "We'll get this thing going, and everybody in the county will be happy."
-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.