Kansas drivers asked to foot DMV bill

MISSION, Kan. - Kansas taxpayers may end up footing the bill for costs associated with a new computer system at several Kansas DMV offices.

Kansas taxpayers have already paid $40 million for the new upgrade on DMV computers. The system caused widespread problems, including long delays at the DMV offices. Before the upgrade, the wait was typically one hour for services. This month, drivers are waiting two hours for services. When the system was first installed, drivers waited three or four hours to renew their tags or obtain vehicle titles.

After the launch, lines spewed outside of DMV offices and Wyandotte County spent nearly $3,000 for tents and bottled water for motorists forced to wait in the 100 degree heat.

The agency has not only cost taxpayers time, but it's costing the state agency hundreds of thousands of dollars. The agency said it is facing a half-million dollar deficit related to the new system. State employees racked up nearly $600,000 in overtime.

A proposal announced on Thursday in Topeka would raise a $3 transaction fee to $5 for vehicle titles or new license tags. Some counties in Kansas could opt-out of the increase, but Johnson and Wyandotte Counties both testified that they need the extra money.

The state is holding the remaining 10% of the contract with 3M -- the company contracted with the updated computer system. 41 Action News also learned the Kansas DMV plans to delay the next phase of its computer upgrade, which involves driver's licenses.

Drivers are unhappy about the proposal to raise fees.

"What am I paying my taxes for now? And now they want me to pay another tax for something they should have checked out before they bought it," Mission resident Hedy Borrowman said. "And the person selling it should be responsible. If you and I were in a business, and we sold something that didn't work right, we would take it back and want it fixed."

Johnson County officials said the fee increase is needed not only to pay for costs associated with the new system, but because the state continues to hand down more responsibilities to Kansas counties. Kansas DMV offices have not increased fees since 2007, and Johnson County Treasurer Tom Franzen said they are needed to offset a growing deficit. Any increases would have to be approved during the next legislative session.

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