On the street
It depends on where I am and if I expected the line to be as long as it is. I’m usually patient unless I’m in a big hurry.
The Douglas County Treasurer's office is looking for ways to shorten the long lines that form at the end of the month, when many people renew their vehicle license tags.
Among the solutions are encouraging more renewals by mail and online, and working with the state to increase the number of registration due dates.
The tag renewal process was one of several issues studied in an 18-month management assessment of the treasurer's office conducted by a consultant. Treasurer Paula Gilchrist initiated the study. The consultant was paid $125 an hour for work that was done. Gilchrist said she could not immediately provide the total paid.
Included in the study, which was discussed at Monday's County Commission meeting, was a survey of the public about its perception of the treasurer's office and its employees. The survey was taken on peak transaction days at the office. Employees got high marks for competence, promptness, accuracy, courteousness and experience.
"Customer satisfaction overall is very high," the consultant, LaVern Epp, said. "But, simply stated, people don't like the hassle of standing in line for new licenses."
Gilchrist said she would like the state to adopt two due dates for vehicle tags. For example, tag fees and vehicle taxes for people whose last names start with "A" are due on the last day of February. A change might require that those with names "Aa" through "Ae" be due by the 15th and the remainder of the alphabet due at the end of the month.
Gilchrist also noted that ending the use of license stickers would save money. Renewals could be handled online and no sticker would have to be mailed to the vehicle owner. A marker, similar to a bar code, would be built into the license tag. The code would contain registration information and would be read by a scanning gun. Police would be able to use a scanner from their cars.
Such changes would require action by the Kansas Department of Revenue.
People currently can renew vehicle registrations online and pay by credit card. But a processing fee is charged for use of a credit card, which makes the overall cost a few dollars higher than paying in person or by mail.
The treasurer's office plans to expand its services out of the courthouse. By the end of the year, Gilchrist hopes to have some employees working in Baldwin City one week a month. They would handle tax collections and vehicle registrations. The county will partner with Baldwin State Bank to use its satellite branch in Baldwin City Market.
Commissioners Bob Johnson, Charles Jones and Jere McElhaney commended Gilchrist for her initiatives. So did County Administrator Craig Weinaug. He said treasurer's employees offered suggestions for improving efficiency.
"I have seen people in this department that have just blossomed in terms of talent and ability," Weinaug said.
Weinaug said he hopes similar assessments can be conducted in other county departments.
In other matters Monday, commissioners approved one version of the so-called southern development plan on a 2-1 vote. The plan outlines residential, industrial and commercial uses for an area generally between 31st Street and the Wakarusa River.
Johnson and McElhaney voted for a plan recommended by the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission. That version designates land northwest of the intersection of 31st and Louisiana streets as "medium-density residential." Jones voted for the Lawrence City Commission version, which designated the same area "low-density residential."