by Melissa Brunner
We've done several stories - and heard many complaints - recently about the long lines at the Shawnee County Treasurer's office. Today, I had to live it.
Last year, I waited until the last day of the month to renew my vehicle tags. I waited in line for an hour and a half and vowed I'd be smarter this year. I was hoping to renew online. The first issue: you can't do antique tags online, however mail would be an option. The larger issue: we didn't receive a renewal notice for our new vehicle, so an in-person visit was required.
I arrived at the courthouse at 7:55 am, thinking I'd beat the crowds. No such luck. Treasurer Larry Wilson was standing in the lobby, handing out numbers and informed me the wait was already at an hour! Apparantly, the courthouse doors open at 7:15 am and people started showing up then, hoping to be first in line when the office doors opened at 8 am.
Part of the problem is the closure of the Motor Vehicle Annex at White Lakes. Wilson shut it down when conditions became what he deemed to be unsafe - we reported on a sprinkler system that didn't work and previous problems with the heating and cooling systems. Wilson told me that, yes, the staff has moved to the courthouse location, but they're still dealing with phone calls, mail and email/online inquiries, plus, there are only a finite number of computers and work stations. I've heard some people complain that they could understand if all the work stations were filled. I don't know what the situation is later in the day but when I was there this morning, all the stations were filled.
So what should be done about it? Let's hear your thoughts! Wilson told me it would take six to nine months to find a location and do the renovations that would be necessary to get a new annex location up and running. I heard one person suggest that they extend the office hours, using the extra staff from the annex to avoid overtime issues. I'm not sure what the implications are of having an office open beyond what the building's hours are. Also, it was suggested they use the extra annex staff to ensure that break times and luncheons (which you are required to give workers) don't mean a work station goes unstaffed.
I'm not sure the answers, but I do know this - I'll be making sure I do my registrations online next year if I can, and sending the antique tag renewal in the mail (I made sure to ask about that today!). In the end, I suppose that helps everyone because I'm one less person in line.
By the way, my wait time was right at one hour and my transaction took about five minutes - just long enough to have to feed the parking meter!
The line - after the doors opened & a bunch of people went inside the office!