After a brief public comment period, wherein the Leavenworth County Commissioners heard citizen Louis Klemp’s concerns with recent County information glitches, the Tuesday County Commission meeting focused on the re-organization plan proposed by County Treasurer Janice Van Parys.
The minutes from the previous meetings were approved, and County Administrator Pat Hurley announced upcoming events: the Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas, a public meeting, will be held Oct. 24 and 25 in Manhattan; and, the Leavenworth County Development Corporation meeting is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Tongonoxie VFW Hall.
After two executive sessions, which were closed to the public, the Commission took a moment to approve the appointment of David Falk as the new Reno Township district treasurer.
Then, the Commission directed its attention to a revised re-organization plan from Van Parys. Tracy Wiehe, the motor vehicle and commercial vehicle deputy, joined the treasurer.
Van Parys stated the goals of the new re-organization plan were to ensure that personnel costs were assigned to appropriate departments, to avoid confusion previously arising when personnel performing county functions were being paid from the treasurer’s fund rather than the general fund.
In addition, the treasurer’s plan, if approved, would add a needed staff member to the office staff.
This new staff member, a finance deputy, would be responsible for the collection of personal property taxes, real estate taxes and provide needed coverage for the business-side staff when employees were out of the office. With this new hire, the county treasury staff would number 16 people.
The re-organization plan also would provide pay increases to 14 members of the treasurer’s staff.
Van Pays discussed some of the challenges her office has faced during phase one of the statewide shift to a new 3M-developed Division of Motor Vehicle software system, and Commissioner Clyde Graeber expressed concern about the coming implementation of phase two.
Commissioner Dennis Bixby also noted that the “county has yet to be made whole on phase one,” to Graeber mused filing a district court action to get payment.
Later in the conversation Bixby commented: “I’m not looking to get into trouble here, and I don’t want to get way off-base, I’m just looking for justice.”
Van Parys estimates the total cost of her re-organization plan will be $124,664.33. But she is also increasing the current yearly estimates for treasury revenue.
The additional revenue will come from new charges for priority registrations and “courtesy” transactions.
The additional revenue sources are estimated to yield $91,000, leaving a difference of approximately $33,664 between the new revenue and the new re-organization costs.
Page 2 of 2 - Commissioner Bixby expressed concern that some nearby counties have not opted-in to commercial vehicles registration (until recently, the state had handled commercial vehicle registration, but they have now handed the task to counties to voluntarily take on) and that the over-run would come to Leavenworth County, with the new registration system (and its problems) over-taxing resources.
Van Parys responded by saying that Wyandotte County had recently opted-in, but Jefferson and Atchison counties had not.
“We do have the option to just say we will only do Leavenworth County commercial vehicles, such as Johnson County and Wyandotte County are doing,” Van Parys said, “I hate to limit what we do right off the bat.”
“I’d hate to tell the largest contributors to our tax base that they have to go to another county to get their commercial vehicles registered,” she continued.
“I would at least like to try it … I just feel like it is something we need to do for our taxpayers.”
And, “I think it is a really good revenue source for our county, I really do.”
To which Graeber responded: “I commend you on your willingness to try it, I just have no confidence in the system after seeing the debacle that occurred last time.”
Currently there are designated people on the treasurer’s staff trained to handle commercial vehicles, but additional people will be trained as the needs becomes clearer.
The Commission decided to wait until the Thursday Commission meeting to approve the treasurer’s re-organization plan.