Routt County Motor Vehicle Deputy Clerk Mae King grabs a license plate for a customer Wednesday at the Routt County Courthouse. As part of a plan to boost revenues and reduce expenses, Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland is recommending fee increases in the Motor Vehicle Department.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Routt County Motor Vehicle Deputy Clerk Mae King grabs a license plate for a customer Wednesday at the Routt County Courthouse. As part of a plan to boost revenues and reduce expenses, Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland is recommending fee increases in the Motor Vehicle Department.

County could increase fees to balance budget

Facing projected $1.3M shortfall, officials review revenues, expenditures

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Routt County Motor Vehicle Deputy Clerk Mae King, bottom, helps Routt County resident Dennis Brust renew his vehicle registration Wednesday in the Routt County Courthouse office. Also pictured are deputy clerks Joan Lucas and Steve Corzette.

By the numbers

- Voting method tallies

2005: Absentee/mail 358 (5 percent); Early 2,140 (31 percent); Election Day 4,352 (64 percent); Total 6,850

2006: Absentee/mail 1,362 (17 percent); Early 2,486 (32 percent); Election Day 3,984 (50 percent); Total 7,832

2007: Absentee/mail 1,640 (26 percent); Early 2,469 (40 percent); Election Day 2,100 (34 percent); Total 6,209

2008: Absentee/mail 6,126 (46 percent); Early 4,526 (34 percent); Election Day 2,673 (20 percent); Total 13,325

- Mail ballots requested

2004: 1,880

2008: 6,634

— Major fee increases, a crackdown on motor vehicle registrations and a mail only election in 2009 are possible under a plan outlined by Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland.

Weinland presented her plan for boosting revenues and lessening expenses to the Routt County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday. While Weinland's proposals are some of the first, all county department leaders have been asked to submit such plans as county government looks at a projected $1.3 million shortfall in its 2009 budget. Revenues in 2008 were $1.4 million less than the county budgeted for.

"I really seriously want to talk about a mail-ballot election in '09," said Weinland, who provided estimates showing such a move could save tens of thousands of dollars in costs such as election judges, overtime and printing.

Weinland said allowing mail-in, early and Election Day voting is like running three separate elections.

"With a mail-ballot election, we're basically conducting one election," she said.

Weinland said the substantial amount of money the county has spent on electronic voting machines would not be wasted because they still would be used in partisan elections every two years.

While the commissioners signaled their willingness to adopt some of Weinland's proposals, Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said further public hearings are warranted before a decision is made on an all mail election. Stahoviak also asked Weinland to reconvene an election committee of residents that was first formed to improve county elections after frustrated voters waited hours to cast a ballot in 2006. The committee has participated in subsequent discussions about election practices in Routt County.

Some of the fee increases suggested by Weinland include the creation of a $10 late fee on vehicle registrations and renewals and an increase from $5 to $10 for the Motor Vehicle Department's vehicle identification number inspections. The cost of a new liquor license would increase from $500 to $750, temporary permits would increase from $100 to $200 and special event permits would increase from $25 to $100 under a liquor licensing fee schedule suggested by Weinland.

Countywide, the commissioners will consider adopting a uniform increased fee for returned checks. The amount Weinland put forth was $25. Weinland also hopes to work with local law enforcement agencies to step up enforcement of vehicle and machinery registrations. Another suggestion was to disallow access to images of documents such as tax liens and death certificates on the Clerk and Recorder's Web site except for users who pay a monthly subscription fee.

"I would agree that people need to pay for that convenience," Stahoviak said.

The county is taking a multi-pronged approach to resolving its budget issues for this year and as it prepares a 2010 budget.

"The going is getting tough," said Finance Director Dan Strnad, who said the county's sales tax collections fell 8 percent in December.

The county already has instituted a hiring freeze and soon will engage in an exercise to create a prioritized list of county services that will help guide cuts. In its 2010 budget, the county is considering steps including not allowing overtime, forcing unpaid vacations, re-evaluating medical benefits, sharing motor pool vehicles between departments, delaying capital projects and equipment replacements, layoffs and program elimination.

Comments

jk 5 years, 2 months ago

ybul, forgive me here but doesn't the fact that they are "public records" mean, any old schmo can walk in off the street and view them anyway

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 2 months ago

The idea that public records should be viewable only by those that pay a monthly fee is terrible.

Public Records means just that. The records that are open to the public.

The only justification for institute a fee is in order to make money from the public that wishes to view public records.

The benefit of viewing public records online is that it costs the county next to nothing because they digitize the records as part of archiving the public records and it removes the need for people to spend time in the County Clerk's office taking up the time of County employees.

And if they are going to charge for the service then they better fix the bugs in the service such as fixing their applet so that it no longer has an expired certificate. It would be absolutely ridiculous to require me to tell my browser to accept an insecure, unverified applet as part of a paid service.

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sickofitall 5 years, 2 months ago

"In its 2010 budget, the county is considering steps including not allowing overtime, forcing unpaid vacations, re-evaluating medical benefits, sharing motor pool vehicles between departments, delaying capital projects and equipment replacements, layoffs and program elimination."

Now this statement sounds like the most reasonable place to start. Everyone else is being laid off or out of work, why should the government be any different? They just need to slim down rather than passing the burden onto the already struggling taxpayers.

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ybul 5 years, 2 months ago

Given the level of identity theft, why should documents be allowed to be viewed online for free, without any real verification of who is looking at the documents. If a private business were to allow any records to be compromised they would face fines and potentially worse.

If people want to know information about personal property, they should have to be positively identified, not allowed to search from timbuktu with little recourse.

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trump_suit 5 years, 2 months ago

While public records should be just that..... "public" There is nothing in the consitution about charging a fee for that access. I think it is entirely appropriate to charge fees for a service that the county provides. What really bothers me from both the public and private sectors is their desire to charge for services that are actually cheaper for them to provide electronically.

Why do banks charge atm fees when their costs per withdrawal are lower for atms than teller windows?

Why does it cost extra to file your IRS tax return electronically when it is cheaper for the IRS to process it that way?

Why does the county want to institute a fee for electronic access when it is cheaper than the current paper method?

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ybul 5 years, 2 months ago

Yep, however, with the security measures that private business have to take because of identity theft issues, it might be nice if records with sensitive information were kept a little more secure.

Those charges probably come from the need to pay for the technology and institutions not want to put themselves out of work.

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 2 months ago

If the public records should not be public then make them private. Charging a fee has nothing to do with privacy. It just means that the businesses (and scam artists) that want to access the public records will be able to justify the cost while making it expensive for typical citizens to look at the public record.

The whole reason these are public records is because they are supposed to be public. While someone might think that something might reveal personal information, the fact that it is public allows verifying a contractor does not have issues with liens and so on.

If there is a some type of public record that is of no benefit to the public then identify it and work to remove it from the public record.

The county clerk uses the technology as part of how they archive and allow the records to be accessed. It costs them no more to make the records available online or at the county offices.

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