Drivers, car buyers, vehicle owners and others looking to do business with the Douglas County Treasurer’s Office or the Division of Motor Vehicles in early December might want to speed up their approach.
The offices will be closed for vehicle-related transactions, to allow for an around-the-clock conversion of 6.8 million data files to empower a new $40 million computer system.
And make no mistake: While the system’s booting up, anyone seeking a license renewal, vehicle registration, title or other such transaction will be locked out.
“Plan ahead,” said Lisa Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Revenue, which is leading the conversion project. “By all means, plan ahead. And pay heed to the notices: We’re letting you know we can’t provide service on those days. Plan. Plan ahead. Come in and get your business done early.”
• DMV offices statewide, including the one at the I-70 Business Center in North Lawrence and within dozens of country treasurer’s offices elsewhere, will be closed from Dec. 1 through Dec. 5.
• County treasurer’s offices, including three in Lawrence, will be unable to process titles, vehicles registrations, issue handicap parking placards or anything else related to vehicles from Dec. 1 through at least Dec. 6 and likely until Dec. 7, possibly later.
That means drivers whose licenses expire in early December — the state issues more than 8,500 licenses each week — will need to stand in line early at the DMV. And folks whose last names end in T, V or W will need to be sure to register their vehicles by the end of November, or risk going for a longer-than-normal period with an unregistered car or truck.
The state and treasurer’s offices are notifying the Kansas Highway Patrol, sheriff’s offices and police departments to ensure that law-enforcement personnel are aware of the renewal and registration limitations. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be all that forgiving.
“I don’t think that they’ll go out looking for people,” said Paula Gilchrist, Douglas County treasurer, “but what if you go to Kansas City, Missouri? How understanding are they going to be? Or if you go to Colorado? We still suggest that people plan ahead.”
Another potential complication: Gilchrist’s three locations in Lawrence will be closed Nov. 24 and Nov. 25 for the Thanksgiving holiday, then will be back open the next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before closing Thursday for the system update.
Those three days look to be plenty busy, folks.
“We’ll staff up to our full potential,” Gilchrist said, noting that she likely would call in some retirees to help.
And no matter what happens, Gilchrist said, customers will be frustrated by the scheduled service interruptions and inevitable complications sure to arise once the system is in place.
“We’ll do what we can to help, but if they come in and want us to do something on one of those days (we’re closed), we won’t be able to do it,” she said. “They can crab at us all they want, but we still won’t be able to do anything. We’re asking for patience and understanding and a little cooperation and help from the public.
“We’re going to be a little awkward for a couple days (once the office reopens), but all we can do is apologize.”