By Gene Meyer | Kansas Reporter
MISSION – Kansas motorists in some of the state’s largest counties may be asked to pay more toward the state’s new Division of Motor Vehicles computer system.
Johnson County, the sprawling Kansas City area suburbs where about one in five Kansas cars and trucks are registered, plans to ask state legislators to hike a county service fee for titles and registrations to $7, from $5. Owners of an estimated half million of the 2.7 million vehicles registered in Kansas could be affected.
Johnson County needs the money to cover additional staffing costs because the new $40 million state DMV computers, which went online in May and require counties to do more title verification work, previously done in Topeka, Hannes Zacharias, the county manager, told county commissioners Thursday.
Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., are considering making a similar request on behalf of all Kansas counties that need such help. It’s part of a package of requests the Kansas Association of Counties is preparing for the 2013 Kansas Legislature, which meets Jan. 14, Mike Taylor, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City Kansas, said Friday.
Wyandotte –KCK also plans to seek repayment for overtime and other expenses it and other counties incurred this year, after Kansas shut down its DMV operations for one week in May to switch on the new system. DMV offices across Kansas were jammed by backlogs in the weeks just after the conversion and the largest offices – in Johnson, Sedgwick, Shawnee, Douglas and Wyandotte counties — are still coping with some of the aftershock.
Sedgwick County Treasurer Linda Kizzire, in Wichita, said no one there had reached a decision yet about recouping any of the costs.
Johnson County officials say the conversion increased their DMV costs by $800,000 to hire additional workers and by more than $52,000 for increased security and crowd control in the first three months after the switch. Taylor said he didn’t know precisely how much Wyandotte-KCK costs increased, “but it certainly is thousands and thousands of dollars.”
Waiting times were estimated at two hours or more in many of Kansas’ biggest city DMV offices at midday Friday, when many of those waiting were still trying to beat end-of-the-month deadlines for tags and titles.
“Lines are long in every DMV office in the United States on the last day of the month,” said Shawnee County Treasurer Larry Wilson in Topeka.
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