Douglas County Treasurer’s line management system faces big end-of-month test

photo by: Nick Krug

Athena Jordan, Lawrence, clicks through the prompts at a kiosk before renewing her vehicle registration on Tuesday, July 19, 2016 outside the County Treasurer's Office in the Old County Courthouse. The office recently implemented the system for vehicle registration to help manage wait times. With Jordan is her daughter, Liberty Huffman, 10.

After 11 years as Douglas County treasurer, Paula Gilchrist has made peace with the ability of people to procrastinate.

She knows that is especially true when it comes to spending money, which is something people often do when they come to her office. As a result, the treasurer’s office often has long lines stretching out its doors into the first-floor rotunda of the Douglas County Courthouse the last few days of each month, when vehicle registrations are due, or when real estate taxes are due in December and May.

So pervasive is the procrastination that a queue of county residents renewing registrations, paperwork in hand, is also a common sight at the of the treasurer’s office’s satellite locations at the Dillons stores at 3000 W. Sixth St. and 2000 W. 31st St.

“It’s just human nature,” Gilchrist said of the many late renewals of the county’s 121,000 vehicles. “Before I worked here, I always waited until the end of the month, too. Some people are on monthly budgets or wait until they get a paycheck.”

To help address the lines, the treasurer’s office this month rolled out a “Qless” line management system, which provides multiple ways county residents can schedule appointments for business with the office and avoid waiting in line.

Installed in late June but brought online in July are what Gilchrist refers to as kiosks at all three Lawrence offices. On these large monitors, residents can type their phone number and the reason they are visiting the treasurer’s office. They will learn how long a wait they will have before a clerk can serve them. With that information, residents can wait for a phone call or text informing them of an open window, or make an appointment to see a clerk at a set time.

The kiosks are just one of the options available to residents with the treasurer’s office’s new Qless line management system. Reservations for all three offices can also be made through a phone call or text to 844-4DG-COKS (844-434-2657), or online at, she said. Smartphone owners can also download the Qless app.

The hope is the Qless system will end long lines on rush days as residents schedule appointments around other activities.

“You won’t get in any sooner, but you don’t have to wait in line,” Gilchrist said. “If it’s 2 p.m. and it will take you 15 minutes to get to the courthouse, you can schedule an appointment for when you get here.” ?

Gilchrist received the Douglas County Commission’s approval to purchase the $10,000 system in February. It’s a system already in place in Johnson, Riley and Sedgwick counties, she said. ?

“It originated as a restaurant line management system,” she said. “Free State Brewery uses the same system. It was developed by a Kansan. A lot of the developers are from Kansas. We kept it local.”

The Baldwin City satellite office, which is open one week a month, does not have a problem with lines and is not part of the system, she said.

Her office hasn’t started promoting the system yet, Gilchrist said. It will get its first big test in the week ahead with the end-of-July rush. She expects some bugs to show up during that time, but said it has performed flawlessly so far and that her staff was trained and working comfortably with it.

Her 19-member staff gears up for the end-of-the-month rush, Gilchrist said. The days go by quickly with all the business. The long lines out into the lobby as people wait to see a clerk are more stressful on other offices in the courthouse, especially the Douglas County Clerk’s Office that shares the first floor.

Amanda Cole, who has 14 years of experience as a clerk in the treasurer’s office, said staff understood the monthly rush was part of the job. They are respectful enough of co-workers to avoid whenever possible scheduling time off during the rush days, she said.

Feedback about the Qless system has been favorable, but a few have suggested changes, such as using larger type on the kiosks, Cole said.

One of the goals of the Qless system is to address lines at the Dillons location, which causes stress for customers and store employees, Gilchrist said.

“We have a really good relationship with Dillons, but it is a hardship for them,” she said. “Hopefully, this will improve that situation.”