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Officials consider consolidating motor vehicle registration offices

As the lease renewal time approaches on the county’s Olathe motor vehicle registration office, some county officials have broached the subject of whether that office and the Mission office should be combined.

The idea was floated at the most recent Johnson County Commission meeting March 23.

“These are questions we’ve been wrestling with for quite some time,” said Tom Franzen, director of Treasury and Financial Management. His office recommended further study into consolidating as the lease rates for the Olathe office have increased.

The 10-year lease on the 9,000-square-foot space at 782 North Ridgeview Road will run out at the end of 2019. The county’s rent payment has increased from $9 per square foot in 2010 to $16-$17 a square foot from 2016 to 2019. If the county becomes interested in consolidating that office with the one at 6000 Lamar Ave. in Mission, more time would be needed to restructure operations before the current lease runs out.

But commission members were lukewarm to the idea, at best. Chairman Ed Eilert and Commissioner Steve Klika said the current locations are well-placed to serve drivers in the north and south of the county. Eilert said changing to a single location would not save much on staff costs and would inconvenience county residents.

Commissioner Mike Brown was also skeptical. “Having heard from constituents along the way I am not in favor of consolidating,” he said.

Some commissioners added that the lease renewal date shouldn’t be driving policy decisions.

At its next meeting, the commission will consider a restructuring of the current lease that extends the renewal by three years, perhaps giving them a chance to consider the question during the budget writing season to come.

The new terms will lower the current rate and end with a maximum $17 per square foot by the time the lease is up in 2022. The change saves about $29,000 through 2019 and gives below-market terms for the years after that, according to county documents.