- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Department of Revenue plans to change the way it notifies residents that they need to renew their vehicle tags.

The state agency wants to replace 2.6 million personalized vehicle renewal letters sent annually to residents with a generic postcard reminder, The Topeka Capital-Journal (https://bit.ly/1FBiwTM ) reported.

The letter-to-postcard swap is expected to save the state around $500,000. Counties that want to continue the previous method would bear the full cost of printing and mailing the letters.

“It’s a cost-saving measure,” said Jeannine Koranda, spokeswoman for the revenue department. “Counties can have the option of sending a customized letter on their own.”

The Shawnee County treasurer’s office would spend an estimated $60,000 to $75,000 each year to replicate the state’s notification system.

Shawnee County Treasurer Larry Mah said he plans to monitor online, mail-in and in-person renewals during August, September and October to determine whether local taxpayers are adjusting well to the switch. He said some accustomed to the state’s letters may not recognize the postcards, which could prompt a rise in delinquencies.

“I’m going to take a wait-and-see attitude,” Mah said. “I’ll be watching very closely. I’ll be prepared to fix the problem. If my (treasurer office) lines blow up or my phone lines get locked up, we’ll send the renewals.”

Koranda said some lawmakers were briefed on the department’s decision by officials in the administration of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, but no public announcement has been issued.

Democrats Sen. Laura Kelly and Rep. Annie Kuether say the level of service to taxpayers would be decreased if counties didn’t have the resources to resume services dropped by the state agency.

“Make the county do it and pay for it,” Kuether said. “It’s just a way of passing the buck.”

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com

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