The first week of 2014 has been quiet for the commercial vehicle division of the Harvey County Treasurer's office. The slow traffic has actually been a blessing for staff, as they adjust to the roll-out of a new state system for registering commercial vehicles.
On Jan. 1, the Kansas Department of Revenue's Commercial Motor Vehicle Office launched a new system designed to increase compliance with federal and state departments of transportation. The property tax assessed on commercial vehicles also was replaced with a fee.
“The new fees will streamline Kansas’ antiquated process tied to fluctuating property taxes and help businesses predict from year-to-year what their registration will cost,” said Deann Williams, manager of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Office. “This is leveling the playing field for all commercial vehicle operators and simplifying the process because the fee will be collected when the vehicle is registered.”
From the county's perspective, Treasurer Becky Fields said traffic has been too light so far — just seven vehicles — to tell how smoothly the program will actually run.
"It really hasn't been busy enough yet to tell," she said.
By definition, a commercial vehicle is used to transport property or passengers. If it has a gross vehicle weight or gross combination vehicle weight of 10,001 pounds or more; is designed or used to transport 15 or more passengers, including the driver; or is used to transport hazardous material in a quantity requiring placarding, it is considered a commercial vehicle.
Motor carriers operating solely in Kansas as an intrastate motor carrier will receive a new license plate. The new white and purple plate marked “Commercial” will provide an easy reference for law enforcement. Kansas-based motor carriers that drive in Kansas and other states and currently have an apportioned tag will continue to receive the license plate that is white with red marked “Apportioned.”
The new registration system does not affect farm vehicles.
Tessa Butcher, who works in the county treasurer's department, thinks the new system has been running smoothly, for the most part. However, she said customers may have trouble getting information they need from the state.
"I think this is all still kind of a confusing thing, even for our customers," she said. "(If) information is not going to be available to our customers, that could be an issue in the future."
The treasurer's office is open for processing commercial vehicle transactions from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.