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Changes to Kansas motor vehicle system put on hold

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- A Kansas agency is delaying fixing problems with its motor vehicle system as a software vendor implements changes under a new state law.

The law that takes effect Jan. 1 will change truck and permit fees and allow county treasurers to sell permits to access state parks. The software used by the state is provided by Minnesota-based 3M Co.

The system to help drivers renew license tags and register their cars caused long delays and lines at motor vehicle offices across the state after it was introduced in May, prompting anger from residents and county treasurers' offices.

The problems caused conflict between several counties and the Department of Revenue, particularly when some larger counties were forced to pay thousands of dollars in overtime and hire new workers in response to the computer glitches.

"We haven't suspended working on bugs," Department of Revenue spokeswoman Jeannine Koranda told the Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/Tfkxi3). "Some of them overlap with the changes."

Koranda said none of the software problems are preventing clerks from processing titles and vehicle tags.

"It's process stuff," Koranda said. "We're not working on workarounds yet, but they're able to do what they need to do."

Because of the software problems, Kansas has withheld $2 million of the $25 million that it owes 3M for its contract until the problems are resolved. The Department of Revenue has also spent $550,000 to repay the counties for overtime incurred because of the system's problems.

Koranda said changing the software to incorporate the new laws will cost the state $417,770, of which $140,580 will be paid for by the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

Marsha Ralston, deputy Shawnee County treasurer, said the county is reporting fewer problems and staff have become accustomed to the new system, but there are still issues.

She said the county isn't able to issue enough disabled tags to companies that provide transportation services in the county. In addition, the county hasn't been able to issue refunds because of a discrepancy with the state.

"I get irate calls about that every day," Ralston said.