By JONATHAN ZWEYGARDT
At the beginning of the year the Ellis County Treasurer’s office began implementing a small fee for vehicle owners when they renew their registration, a move that the treasurer says has reduced the burden on property owners and helps reduce the department’s overall budget.
Ellis County Treasurer Vern Ruder said he elected, after 12 years, to implement a $2.50 fee for walk-in customers for each title registration renewal transaction.
“The State of Kansas allows the treasurers in each county to help fund their motor vehicle operations with this facility fee for the county,” Ruder said.
It is up to each county to determine what it charges. Ruder said Sedgwick County charges a $5 fee, and earlier this year, Shawnee County increased its fee from $3 to $5. Barton County also charges $2.50.
Ruder says the fee helps to supplement the motor vehicle department.
“The state no longer purchases our computers or printers,” Ruder said, “so the funding is all done right here in our county.”
Ruder also said he wanted to take the burden off of people who pay property taxes.
“I feel like we should be funding our motor vehicle department with motor vehicle money,” Ruder said.
Someone who lives in an apartment here but drives a car is helping fund the motor vehicle department run because they're not paying property tax.”
Ruder said 15 percent of all of the motor vehicle transactions are returned to Ellis County from the state. That helps to fund half of the treasurer’s staff and office supplies, but Ruder said he estimates the additional fee will probably generate more than $50,000 this year.
The additional funds have also allowed Ruder to reduce the treasury budget.
He recently told the Ellis County Commission he reduced the treasury budget from $452,000 in 2022 to $367,000 in 2023 — an $85,000 reduction.
Individuals who do not want to pay the fee can drop their payment in the drop box in the alley next to the County Administration Building at 718 Main St. in Hays. They also can pay online, but there is an additional 2.5 percent fee to pay with a credit card.