UG may spend an extra $45,000 to send out license tag renewal notices that state won’t mail

The state of Kansas has proposed to eliminate mailing car tag renewal notices to residents, instead proposing to mail small postcards this year, asking residents to renew online and print out a renewal. So Wyandotte County now is considering spending $45,000 to do what the state formerly did – send out the license renewal notices by mail.

This state cutback has the potential to lose significant revenue for Wyandotte County, UG officials believe. They discussed the issue at a UG committee meeting Monday night at City Hall.

“We believe the potential impact on the office will be additional phone calls to our phone banks, both 311 and the phone bank we have in our office,” said Debbie Pack, UG director of revenue. There will be additional walk-in customers in the office, too, she believes, if the postcards alone are used. The state has proposed to eliminate the renewal notices starting in August of this year.

The UG has already implemented an additional $5 fee to be assessed on anyone who walks in to renew tags because it wanted to encourage people to renew online or by mail, which is more cost-effective for the UG, she said.

“We feel this postcard initiative by the state is going to be very counter-productive to that initiative,” Pack said at the meeting.

She said the postcards would increase delinquent taxes because people will just forget – they will get a postcard and forget to follow up to go online to pay their taxes, she believes.

If the UG does nothing, and the state sends out postcards, the UG could lose significant revenue, according to UG officials.

The state has supplied the county with a form so that it can print its own notices, she said. The cost of outsourcing the printing of the notices will be about $45,000 a year, with about 75,000 renewals sent out a year in Wyandotte County, she added. It is not feasible for the staff to do this with the resources it has, she added.

On Monday, she said she heard there was an effort to revise one of the bills in the Senate so that a renewal notice must be provided by the state. However, she advised the UG that it should move forward under the assumption the county must provide these. The county must notify the state by June 5 on which direction it wants to go because of the printing deadlines for the postcards, she said.

About 12 to 15 counties are now discussing efforts to move forward with printing their own renewal forms, Pack said. Residents of about 90-plus counties won’t get a renewal form and will only receive postcards, she added.

Lew Levin, chief financial officer for the UG, said the treasury office collects about $18 million for the different governmental entities in motor vehicle renewals. The UG’s share is $9 million, he said.

“It’s a major revenue source to all taxing entities in Wyandotte County. We just believe the postcards are a less efficient way to invoice our customers and for us to collect the revenue,” Levin said.

UG Administrator Doug Bach said, from a business perspective, “if you lose a tenth of those who were coming in to renew, you’re making a very bad business decision.”

“I don’t like this from the aspect of what the state has put forth is just not taking responsibility for something they’ve done for years, that they’ve funded. It doesn’t make any sense from that perspective. I don’t have any bills that I get at home that I don’t get a reminder from the billing company, that says, here’s your bill and tells me what it is, and tells me to go pay it. And most of these send you an envelope, or they’ve worked hard to get you online for that bill payment. They don’t try to go real lax about it and say, here’s a bill, you might want to look and see if you have something, and not even really be any detail, particularly something that’s done on an annual basis.

“It’s a really ridiculous thought process that’s going through the state to throw this away, to say they wouldn’t do this. I don’t know how we could be attentive to the needs of our citizens by not letting them know it, and then increase the level of delinquency, where we have our citizens out there getting tickets because of this, and then we collect less revenue in the end. It doesn’t take very many car tags to get to $46,000,” Bach said.

UG Commissioner Brian McKiernan said he was disappointed the state has chosen to shift another cost to the local government rather than continue to be responsible for it as they have been in the past. Even though the UG is trying to offer an incentive for online renewals, it also knows there is a large percentage of residents who don’t have easy access to the Internet and the ability to print those notices off or to renew online, he said.

“I worry that we will see a great uptick in citations for expired tags, expired registration, and in many cases it will be a situation where the citizen has overlooked, or forgotten, or not been able to comply, and it’s just going to create a lot more work across the board. Although I really don’t want to spend this money, I think it’s a good, responsible move on our part to move forward with this plan,” McKiernan said.

UG Commission makes casino grants to local agencies

Grants from the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway totaling $494,890 were allocated at Thursday night’s Unified Government Commission meeting.

The grants ranged from $3,990 for After the Harvest produce procurement program to $47,495 for the Argentine Betterment Corp.’s healthy, active Argentine for all ages program.

The UG Commission voted unanimously to approve the recommendations.

The grants, totaling almost a half-million dollars, are given annually by the Hollywood Casino for social and community projects. For these funds, the UG Commission has decided to put an emphasis on grant programs that encourage healthy living.

The commission this year also went to a different method of selection for the grants, with the commissioners and mayor each selecting about $44,990 worth of grants. Commissioners were not required to keep the $44,990 within their districts.

Last year, under a different selection method, there were some UG Commission districts that did not receive any grants. Last year an independent selection committee made the grant selections. Western Wyandotte County was one of the areas that did not receive grants last year.

In January, a group of local organizations appeared at a public hearing and opposed the change from the independent selection committee, saying that the existing committee had a high level of ethics and transparency. Some of these organizations that were opposed to the change received grants tonight.

The average this year is almost $15,000 per grant, said Joe Connor, deputy county administrator, who has worked with the program since its start.

There were 54 applications received this year, with 34 recommended for approval, he said.

According to agenda information, the organizations receiving funding, including program, amount allotted and commissioner who recommended it:

After the Harvest, produce procurement program, $3,990, Townsend;
Argentine Betterment Corp., a Healthy Active Argentine for All Ages, $47,495, Markley, Murguia;
Argentine Eagles Post 213 American Legion, youth softball field renovation, $10,378, Walker, Markley;
Bishop Ward High School, ACE-Athletic Camp Expansion, $5,000, Kane;
Bonner Springs-Edwardsville Educational Foundation, Bonner Springs-Edwardsville Healthy Life Initiative, $19,230, Walters;
Caritas Clinics, moving the dial on diabetes and metabolic syndrome, $18,000, McKiernan;
Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, New Roots for Refugees program, $10,990, McKiernan;
Concerned Citizens for Old Quindaro, Old Quindaro healthy lifestyle preservation, $5,000, Townsend;
Connecting for Good, Juniper Gardens healthy communities project, $18,000, Townsend, Philbrook;
County Fair Foundation, Fair Ground Shooting Park, $25,000, Walker, Kane;
Cultivate Kansas City, Beans and Greens, $21.787, Bynum, Markley, Townsend;
El Centro, Promotores de Salud – Comprando Rico y Sano, $5,000, Philbrook;
Freewheels for Kids Inc., Bike Clubs for a Healthy Wyandotte, $4,000, Philbrook;
Friends of Kaw Point Park, Kaw Point Park Activities Center restoration, $10,000, Townsend;
Hillcrest Ministries of Wyandotte County Inc., health and wellness for the homeless, $25,000, Johnson;
Historic Northeast Midtown Association Inc., Learn to Earn, $10,000, Townsend, Walker;
Kansas Black Chamber Foundation, KC Blue Dogs Sports Ministries, $3,500, Townsend, Walker, Johnson;
Kansas City Community Gardens, fresh fruits and vegetables for Wyandotte, $5,000, Philbrook;
Mo Kan 20-20 Vision Inc., Bonner Springs Sandlot Kids, $15,760, Walters;
Mo Kan 20-20 Vision Inc., outdoor classroom and trail development, $24,990, Kane;
Oak Ridge Youth Development Corp., nutrition, education and fitness initiative, $40,000, Holland;
Quindaro Gardens Institute, Parkwood Colony Neighborhood Center, $5,000, Townsend;
Revolve, Revolve KCK Earn-a-Bike Program, $7,990, Holland, Walker.
Rosedale Development Association, Rosedale infrastructure improvement project, $8,000, Bynum;
Downtown Shareholders, downtown economic enhancement, $12,000, Bynum, Johnson;
The Family Conservancy, Healthy Parents, Healthy Kids, $11,000, Philbrook;
Turner Community Connection, Healthy Turner Community Project, $12,165, Walker, Bynum;
Turner House Clinic, Turner House Healthy Lifestyles, $16,000, McKiernan;
Turner Recreation Commission, Turner Community Garden improvements, $11,650, Walker, Markley;
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Blessed Sacrament health program, $11,990, Bynum, Johnson;
Vaughn-Trent Community Services, fresh foods program, $15,000, Walker, Walters;
Wyandotte County Parks Foundation, Spring Valley curb, apron and sidewalk repairs, $27,495, Walker, Murguia;
Young Women on the Move, Youth Advocates for a Healthy KCK, $28,480, Bynum, Johnson and Philbrook.

To see the entire list of grant applicants, including the ones which did not receive funding, see the UG agenda for the May 28 meeting, page 332, at, under agendas,

The grants will be posted on the UG’s website next week, according to Connor.

Plans in place to clean up, restore fire station at 81st and Leavenworth Road

A fire station building is temporarily closed at 81st and Leavenworth Road because of a sewage problem. A Fire Department spokesman said there is a fire crew temporarily assigned to a fire apparatus in the parking lot of the station.
A fire station building is temporarily closed at 81st and Leavenworth Road because of a sewage problem. A Fire Department spokesman said there is a fire crew temporarily assigned to a fire apparatus in the parking lot of the station.

The Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department has taken temporary measures to place firefighters at 81st and Leavenworth Road until a fire station there is cleaned up and renovated.

Fire Station No. 4 was temporarily closed, but it is being staffed through firefighters in a fire apparatus in the parking lot, a spokesman said. Sewage problems started on Saturday evening.

Fire Department spokesman Craig Duke said today that firefighters are currently stationed on a fire apparatus parked at the fire station at 81st and Leavenworth Road, and will be there in four-hour shifts, 24 hours a day.

He said a trailer is being brought to the location temporarily for firefighters until the station is renovated.

An emergency procurement to clean and restore the fire station has been obtained, and a contractor has been hired to do the work, he said. There is considerable work to do, with water damage possible. The contractor will tear out part of the lower walls to see if there is significant damage behind them, he said.

A cap on a pipe had broken off, with water and sewage running back into the station. Water pollution employees tested the storm sewers and sewage systems, he said. Heavy rain had collected on the north side of the building and backed up to the station, he said.

The estimated cost of the cleanup may range from $20,000 to $25,000, he said. This includes cleaning up the building, sanitizing it, assessing the damage to the walls, removing cabinets, carpeting, and other measures.

Duke said the area had some coverage from fire crews operating out of Station 19 at 81st and State, and there have been no issues with any calls during this time.

The cleanup and renovations are expected to take a week to 10 days.

“We want to get service back to the people in that area as quick as possible,” he said.