By Gene Meyer | Kansas Reporter
FAIRWAY – Taxpayers in one Kansas county will be shelling out an extra $305,000 to pay some of the unexpected costs of a new $40-million Division of Motor Vehicles computer system the state installed in May.
Johnson County’s Board of County Commissioners is scheduled to vote Thursday whether to take that money out of general fund reserves to cover extra costs for overtime pay, additional employees, extra security and other costs occurred when a statewide switchover to the new system went wrong.
“It will cover the costs for this year,” said Melissa McChesney, acting secretary for the county board.
Kansas closed its DMV offices for the first week in May to make the switch. That created an immediate backlog of uncounted thousands of tag, title, and other vehicle registration transactions in the Kansas City suburbs of Johnson County, where about 6.8 million vehicles are registered. Chaos followed when the offices reopened. Motorists faced day-long waits and shortened service hours in many Kansas population centers more than a month afterward.
The Kansas Department of Revenue, of which the state DMV is a part, earlier this year sent $561,000 to counties throughout the state to help cover overtime costs, said Jeannine Koranda, the revenue department’s press secretary. Johnson County received about $79,000 of that money, but it covered less than half the reported overtime costs.
Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan also disclosed in September that Kansas is borrowing $1.2 million from state highway funds to pay credit card convenience fees that motorists otherwise would pay to buy their tags online. The department is waiving those fees now to encourage online transactions and thus cut waiting time in DMV offices.
Meanwhile, the full statewide conversion of the computer system continues, Koranda said. The state’s drivers license, voter ID and other identification work also must be converted to the new system.
No one is quite sure when that will happen, “but we’re continuing to withhold final payment (of about $2 million to 3M Co., which designed and installed the system) until that is done,” Koranda said
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