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Transcript of JoCo on the Go podcast 2/24/20

Theresa Freed (00:00):

On this week's episode, hear from the Johnson County DMV about the tips and tricks to get in and out quickly. You'll also find out how to bypass the line altogether and take care of business online. Finally, ever wonder about those fees and taxes? We'll walk you through the charges and explain what they mean,

Announcer (00:17):

Whether you live in or just love Johnson County, Kansas, JoCo On the Go has everything Johnson County. Here's what's happening and what's coming up in the community you call home.

Theresa Freed (00:31):

Thanks for joining us for JoCo on the Go. I'm your host, Theresa Freed, a Johnson County resident and employee of Johnson County government. When it comes time to register your vehicle or renew your tags, maybe the last thing you want to do is stand in a line and wait. Today we're going to tell you about all the customer-friendly initiatives at the Johnson County Department of Motor Vehicles that will help that annual responsibility feel a little less like a burden. To help guide us through some of the helpful hints related to the DMV, we have with us today Tom Franzen who is the finance director and treasurer and we also have Jake Letner who works in the DMV to help customers get what they need. Thank you both for being here today.

Tom Franzen (01:08):

Thank you, Theresa.

Theresa Freed (01:10):

All right, first off, Tom, can you tell us a little bit about your department and division?

Tom Franzen (01:14):

I'd be happy to. So Theresa, the department is known as Treasury and Financial Management and it's a long title for basically doing finance functions both internally for Johnson County government as well as externally for the community. And I give you that perspective just to understand there's a lot of people that are involved and providing the services. About half of the department is focused internally. So we provide standard finance functions like payroll, benefits, accounts payable, risk management, purchasing, accounting, some of those standard corporate type functions. We provide those services internally to Johnson County business units. So we are supporting all of Johnson County government, whether it's wastewater or mental health or developmental supports. All of those services. We are the central support functions from a finance perspective. The other half of the department is focused externally. So we provide a number of services to the community. Primarily we provide tax billing and collection services to the community. And when I say that it's not just for Johnson County government, we have a piece of that, but we're also billing for other jurisdictions. Those other jurisdictions would include organizations such as school districts or cities and understanding that we collect that information, we bill on their behalf and then we distribute their proceeds to them once we've collected those bills. So that's a lot of information but that's not why we're here today to talk about motor vehicle. That's the other part of the external services we provide as a appointed County treasurer in the state of Kansas. I have certain duties that I'm responsible to the Kansas Department of Revenue for and one of those is providing title and registering vehicles in Johnson County on behalf of the department of revenue as a county treasurer. My job is to go ahead, bill and collect those fees associated with registering the vehicles and the property tax as well along with those vehicles so we can talk a lot more about that as we go through the interview today.

Theresa Freed (03:11):

All right. Very good information. A lot of people not realize exactly what we do here, so that's great. And to clear up what sometimes I know confuses people, the state handles driver's licenses and we handle vehicle registration. You mentioned that a little bit. Can you talk about that division of responsibility?

Tom Franzen (03:26):

Absolutely. And I'm glad we're taking some time to focus on this because that is a point of confusion for not only Johnson County residents, but across the state because it's handled a little differently across the state. There's 105 counties in the state of Kansas. Many of them do it the same way. The treasurer is elected in those counties and the treasurer provides both driver's license services as well as title and registration services. And that makes sense in most of . In the larger urban counties where there is a significant volume, the State of Kansas Department of Revenue provides driver's license services. They do that here in Johnson County in two different locations. The county treasurer in this case provides the title registration services. So from our constituents' standpoint, there's two different directions they have to go to get either of those services. The County provides title registration services in two physical locations. One in Mission, Kansas and one in Olathe. The State of Kansas provides driver's license services at other locations. We have information. If you come to our office and you're needing driver's license, we have information to point you where you need to go. Our website also provides a link to the department of revenue and provides information on where customers can go. But if you do need to get title registration services, we're happy to provide those services.

Theresa Freed (04:43):

All right. And of course we'll have the link to the website on our show notes. So all of our listeners of course, are, you know, Johnson County residents and they're familiar with the requirement to renew their tags. But can you talk about how you notify residents that it's time to do that?

Tom Franzen (04:55):

Absolutely. So we in the State of Kansas provide register registration, renewal bills out to our customers. And in Kansas, you renew your vehicle based on the first letter of your last name and we begin that process in February of each year. So if your last name begins with A such as Anderson, you would be getting a bill for your registration fees as well as your property tax from me. You would be getting that probably mid-January. We usually issue them about the middle of the month before your your registration and taxes are due for your vehicle. So knowing that middle of January we send out bills for all of the February renewals. You have until the end of the month to actually pay those. But let's be honest, you don't have to wait until the end of the month. You just have until the end of the month to get those paid. And in this case, there's 29 days in February this year, however, that's a Saturday. Your, your payments are due on the Friday of the 28th.

Theresa Freed (05:50):

Okay. That's very important. Especially if, I don't know what letter, you know, falls on that month, but if you have pay your bill there in February, make sure it gets done.

Tom Franzen (05:59):

And to be clear. Theresa, thank you for confirming that. That's for people that are actually physically coming to an office. We still accept payments online and you can pay through the 29th if you're going to pay online.

Theresa Freed (06:09):

Okay. And speaking just of office visits versus, you know, doing things online. So purchasing a new vehicle or making changes to a title that's an office visit, is that right?

Tom Franzen (06:18):

That is correct.

Theresa Freed (06:19):

Okay. And what do you, what do you need to be bringing with you?

Tom Franzen (06:22):

And that's where I'm going to turn this over to. Jake Letner, who is one of our motor vehicle specialists. Jake handles transactions like this on a daily basis and he can speak to that a little better than I.

Jake Letner (06:32):

Sure. So motor vehicle transactions can be complex, but the first thing that we would encourage residents to bring with them when they visit our office would be the title for the vehicle. And also just want to make sure that they bring valid proof of insurance. Also, just any support documentation that they have regarding the sale or the transfer of the vehicle would be advisable to bring in as well. I'd like to note also that in both of our office locations, we have office ambassadors, they're usually located up towards the front of the office. And they're there to help, help answer questions, help review paperwork. We're really there to help serve the public. So just make sure that you bring in everything that you receive from the dealership. And we'd be happy to take a look at the documents once you come to our office.

Theresa Freed (07:10):

So the ambassadors are at the entrance and they help you, so you're not standing in line forever with a pile of documents and missing something, right?

Jake Letner (07:17):

Correct. There'll be wearing clearly identifiable badges that, that display that ambassador title and they're always happy to help. Yes ma'am.

Theresa Freed (07:24):

Okay. And then there's another feature that's in the offices, right? That can help. Is that the kiosk?

Jake Letner (07:28):

Yes. So in both of our offices we have a self service renewal kiosk, which actually allows our residents to just pay for their renewal without having to wait through the line. And it's been a great feature for our, our offices. So last year we processed over 476,000 registration renewals in the county and 86% of those were either done online by mail or using that kiosk. So in most cases, if you're just trying to renew your tags, you do not need to wait through the line for that.

Theresa Freed (07:53):

Okay. There's some very good news cause sometimes the, the wait can be a bit and so if you can avoid it, that's, that's great. So there may be some uncertainty again about what you're paying for when you come in or, you know, process online. So can you talk a little bit about that?

Jake Letner (08:09):

Sure. Yeah. So typical transactions include registration fees, property taxes, and sales tax. So our partners at the Kansas Department of Revenue have provided a free property tax calculator available online. I encourage all of our residents to check that out. They can find that by visiting the Kansas Department of Revenue website, which is ksrevenue.org on the Division of Vehicle section. And there you can type in the make model and year of your vehicle and find out about how much you can expect to pay in property taxes.

Theresa Freed (08:36):

Okay. And so is that for new vehicles or new vehicles to the County or.

Jake Letner (08:40):

That would be for any vehicle and you can actually sort by the County that you live in and the first letter of your last name. So you can figure out what the total would be for a full registration year or you could actually sort by your purchase date to your normal renewal month.

Theresa Freed (08:55):

Okay. And so I'm asking for selfish purposes here. So I moved from Shawnee County to Johnson County within the last year and I'm up for renewal in March. So what does the process look like for me coming into Johnson County?

Jake Letner (09:07):

So your first year when you're moving in from another County, you'll, you'll need to go ahead and take care of that in one of our offices. But if it's a tag renewal, so you're moving in from another County in Kansas, you'd simply need to bring your valid proof of insurance for the vehicle and probably a checkbook.

Theresa Freed (09:21):

Okay. Very important. Okay. So what is the best time to come into the office if you do have to pay an office visit so that you can minimize your time in line?

Jake Letner (09:30):

Sure. So occasionally we do experience a high volume of resident traffic, but I would say that we have our lowest volume in the middle of the week, in the middle of the month. Also during the middle of the day when we're on our lunch breaks, the times tend to extend a little bit. So I would encourage you to come in the very first part of the day, early in the morning or later in the afternoon. Our offices are open from 7:30 to 4 Monday through Friday. So there's lots of opportunity to come in. But if you can, if you're able to middle of the week, middle of the month, definitely advisable.

Theresa Freed (10:00):

Okay. And I know the time is going to vary obviously on how much you're going to be spending in line. So maximum, what's the time commitment there in minimum.

Jake Letner (10:07):

It just kinda depends. But you know what, I think that we've done a lot to sort of help our residents navigate through that line. We have a virtual line management system which allows our residents to check in and reserve their place in line from home. So by checking into our virtual line system, residents will receive periodic text message updates. So it completely eliminates the need for our residents to wait in our lobbies. They can just wait to receive the text messages from our line management system and come in when it's near their turn.

Theresa Freed (10:35):

Okay. So they can just go do some shopping, come right back. Absolutely hold their place. Okay, that's great. So do out-of-state vehicle purchases, purchases rather, require anything additional.

Jake Letner (10:44):

Perhaps? Yes. So any time that you're bringing in a non Kansas title into the state of Kansas, we require a VIN inspection and those are performed by the highway patrol. And there are highway patrol inspection stations located near both of our offices. So I would just be mindful of this state of origin on the title. If it's any other state besides Kansas, you'll just have to get that one additional step taking care of which is that highway patrol VIN inspection.

Theresa Freed (11:08):

Okay. And I know because I lived in California previously, they had admissions requirements there as well. Is that something that we have?

Jake Letner (11:15):

There are no emissions requirements for vehicles in the state of Kansas.

Theresa Freed (11:20):

Okay, good to know. So just a, a question about your job. What do you like best about working at motor vehicles?

Jake Letner (11:25):

You know, so there's a stigma associated with the kind of work that we do in, in, in motor vehicles. But I think that we've really positioned ourselves well to exceed expectations. Certainly people, when they think about visiting a motor vehicle office, they anticipate having to pay a bunch of money. They don't necessarily know what they're going to be paying for. They anticipate waiting a really long time. But I think by inviting that line management system into our, into our County, and by simplifying the renewal process, by having lots of options for payment, including the self-service renewal kiosk, renewing by mail or renewing online, I think that we've drastically improved our operation in terms of what is commonly thought of when you think of motor vehicles. So I think that we've positioned ourselves well to exceed resident expectations as far as motor vehicles concerned.

Theresa Freed (12:12):

That's great. And so now we want to do a little bit of trivia for our listeners. What's the most registered vehicle in Johnson County?

Jake Letner (12:19):

The most registered vehicle in Johnson County for last year was the Ford F150 and that a close second was Toyota Camry and Honda accord came in third. But yeah, Ford F150 most commonly registered vehicle.

Theresa Freed (12:31):

Alright. I thought I had the most generic vehicle, a Nissan Altima that I guess not. Hey, good to know. And how many vehicles, I think you mentioned this already, but how many vehicles are renewed in Johnson County each year?

Jake Letner (12:41):

So I looked this up, I have the exact total. So in 2019, we processed 476,813 registration renewals. And again, 86% of those were processed online or by mail. So a high volume of renewals there obviously, but for the most part you do not need to visit an office. We handle a lot of that work online through the mail, that kind of stuff. So.

Theresa Freed (13:05):

that's great. Okay. And then people come up to the counter with their pile of papers. And what's the most common issue when people don't have the right thing?

Jake Letner (13:15):

Motor vehicle transactions can be complex, but I would say that the most commonly forgotten document would be that VIN inspection. I talked about that a little bit earlier. Just make sure if you have an out-of-state title, you're attempting to register a vehicle, make sure that you get that VIN inspection done first and make sure that you bring valid proof of insurance for that specific vehicle with you as well.

Theresa Freed (13:35):

Okay. Good tip there. And we'll just end on some helpful information. If you could say anything to Johnson County residents, what do you want them to know about motor vehicles?

Jake Letner (13:44):

You know, I would just want them to know that we care about their time, we care about their experiences. We understand that motor vehicle has the stigma associated with it, but we really strive to exceed those expectations. Just know that our department cares about their experiences. We want people to understand what they're paying, why they're paying it and and leave happy. We're, we're just here to help. Johnson County strives to be a different kind of government. We think that we're doing great. We're doing great things along those lines, the department of motor vehicles,

Theresa Freed (14:13):

And thank you both for being here today.

Announcer (14:15):

You just heard JoCo on the Go. Join us next time for more everything Johnson County. Have a topic you want to discuss? We want to hear from you. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter at JoCoGov. For more on this podcast, visit jocogov.org/podcast. Thanks for listening.