Though they now have a check waiting, the Leavenworth County Commission is still hesitant to accept partial payment for costs incurred during the transition to a new statewide vehicle licensing system.
Though they now have a check waiting, the Leavenworth County Commission is still hesitant to accept partial payment for costs incurred during the transition to a new statewide vehicle licensing system. Counties across Kansas are receiving payment after continual slowdowns and shutdowns in a system implemented by the state in May have resulted in long lines at local treasurers offices. Several of the larger counties in the state — like Shawnee, Johnson, Wyandotte and Leavenworth — have had to hire additional staff or incur overtime costs to maintain normal operations. The Leavenworth County Commission approved two new positions in the local office this summer and have budgeted to keep those employees on through the next fiscal year. Having withheld the final payment for the system from provider 3M, the state is now looking to help the counties that have had to work through the problems. Kansas Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan recently testified before an interim committee of the Kansas Legislature, announcing that those counties who experienced difficulties would be offered a portion of about $561,000 set aside from the a state highway fund made up of vehicle fees. County Administrator Pat Hurley said the county’s portion of that allocation is $10,500, in the form of a “one-time only” check. Compared to nearly $30,000 spent this year on overtime and additional personnel and a projected cost of almost $60,000 next year, Commission Chairman John Flower said the offering seemed insufficient. “That’s 10 cents on the dollar,” he said. Hurley said he was aware of the commission’s misgivings about accepting the DOR’s check outright and the potential for action to recover the full amount. In that way, he said Leavenworth County is in a similar position to other affected communities. “I know that Shawnee County is still debating with their county commission, whether they can accept it or not, or whether they want to, because they know it doesn’t cover the full cost,” he said. Commissioner Clyde Graeber suggested the county keep an eye on what Shawnee County does. Hurley said County Counselor David Van Parys is also now looking into the ramifications of cashing the check from the state. “The issue is whether if we accept it have we prevented ourselves from pursuing a claim either from the Legislature or the executive branch?” Hurley said. The commission has already sent a letter to the state stating their intention to pursue full compensation for the costs they’ve incurred. The commissioners said the whole experience still left them with questions, especially since the system designed for the state by 3M was purchased with the intent of saving money. “Where’s the large savings at?” Commissioner Bob Holland asked. As troubling, Flower said, was the way KDOR proposed renumerating the problem. “That’s taxpayer money that’s going with no accountability,” he said.