Local governments offices open, encourage use of online services during pandemic

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World File Photo

The Douglas County Courthouse is pictured in September 2018.

Story updated at 6:01 p.m. Monday.

Offices of local governments are encouraging residents to avoid conducting business in person.

Some offices of the Douglas County government are remaining open as many other organizations are closing as a response to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the county is closing or limiting public access to some of its offices and advising residents to use its online resources rather than coming in for services, according to a Monday news release.

“Our goal is to help prevent spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and keep residents healthy and safe,” the county said in the release.

Beginning Tuesday, the Douglas County Treasurer’s Office will suspend all walk-in or in-person renewals at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St., and its south Lawrence satellite office, 2000 W. 31st Street.

The Register of Deeds’ office will also close physical access to its office until further notice, according to the release. But the office’s staff will be available to answer telephone calls and respond to email.

The County Clerk’s office will remain open, but is taking steps to minimize direct physical access. The county said the office will be staffed and ready to respond to essential functions, but it will attempt to provide some distance between individuals.

To help people avoid coming into county offices, the county said that many of the services provided through the offices of the county’s appraiser, clerk, treasurer and register of deeds — such as paying taxes, searching real estate records, and applying for fishing and hunting licenses, among other things — can be done online or through mail. If residents have questions about those services, they are encouraged to call the county offices first.

Direct links to those online-based services can be found via a post on the front page of Douglas County website, douglascountyks.org.

Additionally, public gatherings of more than 250 people at the Douglas County Fairgrounds are canceled until March 30 as part of the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department’s ordered response to the pandemic. If anyone else who has reserved the fairgrounds for an event wishes to cancel it, the county will not charge its 72-hour cancellation fee until further notice, according to the release.

Following social distancing recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the city is also strongly encouraging people to avoid making utility payments and conducting other city business in person, according to a news release.

The city instead asked people to make payments and submit forms online or by email, mail or phone whenever possible. The release states that City Hall and City Hall Riverfront remain open to the public, but that may be re-evaluated as the community health situation continues to develop.

Online city utility payments can be made on the city’s utility platform, at https://link-infinity.lawrenceks.org. Payments can be made by phone at 877-506-3115 and mailed to PO Box 1757, Lawrence, KS 66044. Payments can also be dropped off at two drop box locations: East of City Hall, where New Hampshire Street curves into Sixth Street, and in the foyer of the east entrance of City Hall, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

As previously reported, the Douglas County District Court has also limited the public’s presence in its courtrooms and hallways.

More coverage: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As the pandemic continues, the Journal-World will be making coverage of COVID-19 available outside of the paywall on LJWorld.com.

Find all coverage of city, county and state responses to the virus at: ljworld.com/coronavirus/


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