- Associated Press - Sunday, March 16, 2014

FREMONT, Neb. (AP) - Doing business at the Dodge County Courthouse got a little easier this week.

The Dodge County Clerk and Dodge County Treasurer installed a drop box in the alley west of the courthouse between Fourth and Fifth Streets, enabling people to drop off absentee voting ballots, motor vehicle taxes and personal property taxes 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Clerk Fred Mytty said discussions about installing a drop box began last February when he was considering holding Fremont’s Feb. 11 special election as an all-mail election due to the potential for bad weather that time of year.

Ultimately, after seeking public feedback, Mytty decided against all-mail voting, but many people still participated through the early voting process.

“I called around to other counties and I saw that Lancaster has one drop box and Douglas County has three of them,” Mytty told the Fremont Tribune (http://bit.ly/1i3cy2i).

“I talked to (Treasurer Cathy Dill) about taxes, and I said, well let’s do this together,” he said.

Fred approached me. He had already done some research on it, and I thought it was an excellent idea,” Dill said.

Aside from adding convenience for the public, Dill said, “it will alleviate customers waiting in line when we’re very busy.”

“Typically we’re very busy the first of the month, the end of the month and during tax payment time, which is the end of April and the end of August,” she said.

The box is not intended to accept payments or correspondence for other county offices at this point.

“It’s basically for absentee ballots and payment of taxes. That’s all we’re looking at,” Mytty pointed out.

“We’ll try to open it up on a daily basis, especially around elections and tax due dates,” he said, but he cautioned that items bumping up against tight deadlines probably should still be taken into the courthouse in person to make sure they are received on time.

“On the edge of the box, it says if there’s a deadline, don’t wait until 10 minutes before. I would think that’s the time when you’ve got to bring it in because we’ve got to put our ‘received’ stamp on it. Cathy and I will both try to get out there and have it collected on the due dates, but we can’t promise that at five minutes until deadline it would be received timely,” he said.

For tax purposes, Dill said she anticipates honoring deadlines for items dropped in the box before midnight of the due date.

“For several years we’ve had a drop-box in our office at the west end of the counters,” she said. “We especially use that at the peak periods of real estate payment time, and we shut that off on the day it becomes delinquent, so people can only use it up until that point. This will be open year-round, but if it’s after a due date, they will be notified that there will be additional interest, and we will accept it until midnight.”

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