Since shortly after the system was implemented, county treasurers in Kansas have been looking for a way to recoup the costs associated with what they call slowdowns from a state-led upgrade to the motor vehicle system.
In the last session, the state Legislature seemed to give them an answer to that question, though perhaps not the one they were hoping for. A new state law that took effect July 1 allows treasurers offices in Kansas to charge up to $5 per transaction to recover the costs associated with slowdowns and shutdowns stemming from the system installed by 3M under a contract with the state.
“It does not require your approval,” said County Administrator Pat Hurley. “It is at the sole discretion of the treasurer,” an elected position.
According to County Treasurer-elect Janice Van Parys, Leavenworth County asked the Kansas Department of Revenue in September 2012 to reimburse the $58,000 in ongoing costs to add two additional full-time staff members to the office during the height of problems with the switch. The county later received a disbursement of about $10,970 for those costs.
Under the new law, Van Parys said the department was planning to implement a $1 charge on vehicle title actions at the window to help make up the remaining costs related to the new platform.
“Though the newer system is functioning better now and is not experiencing a downtime, it is a very complex system that has tripled transaction times,” Van Parys said.
For instance, she said before there were about six to eight fields of data in the former system. Now there are 72.
In addition to the costs of those new employees, Van Parys said the number is also based on the number of vehicle title transactions in the last year.
Commissioner Dennis Bixby asked if the charge would be enough, especially considering that the implementation of the second phase of the DMV upgrade is scheduled for this year.
“I don't want to be coming to the public and nickel and diming people,” he said about having to come back and ask to hike the fee later.
Current County Treasurer Janice Young said the new system was not likely to be implemented until the “bugs” were worked out of what the state and 3M had already put in place. And because the current plan is based on solid numbers of both costs and customers, Van Parys said she was hesitant to project what the costs would be when that portion of the project is completed.
“Anything besides that would be arbitrary,” she said of the department's current plan.