Archive for March 2014

Motor Vehicle office will try paging system to reduce long waits in office

Unhappy taxpayers, crying children, and personnel who were applying for other jobs – that is how Unified Government Treasurer Debbie Pack described the situation in the Motor Vehicle Department in Wyandotte County.

Ever since the state shifted more of the workload to the local offices in May 2012, also changing forms and software at the same time, there have been long waits in the Motor Vehicle office for people who want to get their vehicles registered. The state shifted the approval process from the state to the county.

The county office handles about 60 to 70 new registrations a day at each of its two locations, and sometimes the number is 100.

The average wait in February 2014 was four hours for new registrations, Pack told the Unified Government Commission at the 7 p.m. meeting March 20.

But something is being done now that may address the long waits in the office, she said.

Currently, Wyandotte County’s Motor Vehicle office is working with Shawnee County, which developed its own queue system to allow customers Internet access that will tell them the approximate wait time, she said. The office is also working on a call-in system.

That will mean that customers may come in with their paperwork, leave for a few hours, get a message that they will be needed in 45 minutes, and then come back when it is close to the time they will be needed.  The office still will need about the same amount of time to process the paperwork, she added. But customers will not have to wait in the office the entire time.

Pack hopes the new system will be running by the end of March.

The county office handled more than 37,000 new registrations in 2013, and there were 114,000 renewals that year.

Pack said the state had four to seven full-time persons at the state level working on Wyandotte County cases in 2012 when it shifted the approval process to the county level. That shifted some additional costs to the county in the form of extra personnel needed, according to UG officials.

The county has had to add one approver and other staff since then. Only one employee can take time off from the office at any time, she said. She also asked the commission for additional personnel.


Repeal of renewable energy standards ready for Senate floor

by Trevor Graff, KHI News Service

Topeka — The repeal Kansas standards for renewable energy generation may be debated by the full Senate after members of the Senate Utilities committee today recommended a bill to eliminate them.

The party line vote, with Republicans favoring the bill and Democrats opposed, can allow floor action on the topic, though similar legislation to roll back the standards failed before the Senate last year.

The bill’s proponents said that despite the lack of information showing the standards’ add much to electrical prices, they were convinced repealing them would either lower rates or discourage future increases.

“The proponents said they didn’t know if this would reduce the rates, but it would definitely prolong the rates from going up,” said Sen. Robert Olson, an Olathe Republican. “It’s also a mandate. I believe it will lower rates. It won’t increase rates.”

The panel’s Democrats disagreed. Sen. Marci Francisco, a Lawrence Democrat, said that with the recent launch of an integrated electricity market by the Southwest Power Pool, a power grid that connects Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma and parts of Texas and Arkansas, the committee should not be sending a negative message to utility companies.

“Without having anymore information about the affect of that very recent (March 1) change, I think we could be sending this signal this year and turning around and saying, ‘Oh my gosh we want our utility companies to be players in that market so we can reduce the cost of energy for our customers,’” Francisco said.

Most utility companies in the state already meet the renewable standards, according to the bill’s opponents, and several national corporations are beginning to seek states with renewable energy standards for their sustainable manufacturing initiatives.

“If what we’re trying to do is add jobs in Kansas we need to be very careful that we’re not putting barriers in front of economic development and making this state less attractive to national firms.”

Francisco said. Sen. Forrest Knox, an Altoona Republican, said that the expiration of the federal Production Tax Credit for wind energy at the end of 2013 changed the nature of the debate this year.

Without the tax credit, he said, wind energy costs are going to rise.

“If we continue down this road and have to build wind to cover our RPS, it’s going to cost us significantly,” Knox said. “It’s going to cost the ratepayer. We’ve built way ahead of the RPS. This is the way business works and that’s where we’re going here is saying let’s let business do it’s thing.”

The state’s leading regulated electric utility companies, such as Westar, did not weigh in on the bill for or against.

“Since we are reasonably close to the standards that we’re looking for I do think that this will have a negative impact on the competition of the state,” said Sen. Tom Hawk, a Manhattan Democrat. “I think that we want to create jobs and a good state economy and I don’t see that removing the RPS, in any way, will get us to that joint goal.”

Hawk and Francisco voted against the bill.

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Faith news

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The Christ the King Catholic Church CYO will hold a fish fry from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays, through April 11, at the church hall, 3024 N. 53rd St.

The second annual Rainbow of Colors in the Bible Luncheon will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 29. The host of the event is the Mary F. Handy Women’s Missionary Society of the First AME Church, 1111 N. 8th St., Kansas City, Kan. Other women’s organizations and members of other churches are invited. Table sponsorships are available at $200 per table, or individuals may attend at $20 per person. Each table will select a color. The program will include praise and worship while each table gives an overview on the interpretation of their color in the Bible. For more information, call 913-573-5423 or 913-219-0234.

Grandview Christian Church, 8550 Parallel Parkway, is collecting canned goods for Help 3:17, a local food pantry.

Grinter Chapel United Methodist Church’s Annual Ham and Bean Dinner will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 29, at the church, 7819 Swartz Road, Kansas City, Kan.  Homemade vegetable soup also will be served. For a donation of $7 for adults and $3 for children 10 and younger,  those attending will receive ham and beans or vegetable soup, corn bread, dessert and drink.

Open Door Baptist Church, 3033 N. 103rd Terrace, will hold a men’s prayer breakfast at 8 a.m. Saturday, April 5, in the dining room.

Persons of all Christian traditions are invited to participate in Taizé prayer at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 3, in Annunciation Chapel on the campus of the Mother House of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, 4200 S. 4th St., Leavenworth, Kan.  Taizé prayer is a meditative, candlelit service that includes simple chants sung repeatedly, silence, and prayers of praise and intercession.  These prayer services emerged from an ecumenical community of monks in Taizé, France.  For more information, visit or call 913-680-2342.

Stony Point Christian Church, 149 S. 78th St., is planning an Easter Egg hunt for toddlers through fifth graders at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 19, in the church park. Those attending should bring their own baskets. The event will be moved indoors in case of inclement weather.

St. Patrick Catholic Church, 1086 N. 94th St., Kansas City, Kan., will be the site of a presentation and book signing by Teresa Tomeo. at 7 p.m. April 4. Tomeo recently has written the book, “God’s Bucket List.” She is the host of a Catholic talk show, “Catholic Connection,” and a columnist for the publication, “Our Sunday Visitor,” as well as host of the EWTN series, “The Catholic View for Women.”