By Gene Meyer | Kansas Reporter
TOPEKA — Kansas’ troubled new $40 million Division of Motor Vehicles computer system — which broke down entirely in May and June and still struggles to catch up with work in some places — is on the mend, Kansas Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan told legislators Thursday.
But money is needed to maintain it, Jordan and other revenue officials told members of a legislative budget committee beginning preliminary work on proposals for the 2014 plan.
- Revenue officials may need to take another $561,000 from the Kansas Department of Transportation to help reimburse counties that incurred overtime costs for DMV clerks, Jordan said. Kansas is borrowing $1.2 million from KDOT to pay credit card convenience fees, so more drivers will renew tags online.
- Kansas County treasurers are looking at a proposal by Johnson County Treasurer Thomas Franzen asking legislators to allow counties to raise by $2 a current $3 to $5 transaction fee for vehicle titles or new license tags. Not every county would charge the extra money, but Johnson County needs the additional $1 million or so to pay the salaries of permanent and temporary workers hired to help with added workloads, Franzen said.
- Not fixing the system’s problems would be expensive, too, said Mike Taylor, public relations director and chief lobbyist for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan. Wyandotte spent more than $23,000 on overtime and security at the county treasurer’s office because of the problems. It also spent $3,250 at the height of the delays for tents, awnings and bottled water to shelter motorists when long lines stretched out the doors of a DMV annex. “They were lined up outside in 100-degree heat,” Taylor said.
Meantime, Jordan told members of the Kansas Joint Legislative Budget Committee the state was continuing to withhold $2 million in final payments to 3M Co. for the computers until remaining operational problems were resolved, and for clarity on what warranties would cover if something went wrong after 3M got the final payment.
Harvey County Administrator John Waltner told the legislators one of the biggest problems with the new system was that its problems weren’t consistent. Transactions that worked one day failed the next.
He offered an example from Sept. 6. A customer in the county treasurer’s office had a simple request. The customer wanted to transfer a license plate to a newly purchased vehicle and get credit for part of the taxes paid with the original registration.
The system froze, Waltner said. The clerk emailed state revenue department technical support in Topeka for help at 9:47 a.m. Topeka replied at 10:48 a.m. That happens, and we’ll let you know when we find a solution, the reply said.
What’s frustrating about this, Waltner said, “is yes, this is better than it was at first.”
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