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Local

Motor vehicle staff not hitting the brakes

Despite closed doors, department reports strong numbers while social distancing

Even though the public has been prohibited from entering the motor vehicle department inside the Jasper County Courthouse for the past two weeks, staff continue to meet their standards while working from home.

In a letter addressed to the board of supervisors, Jasper County Treasurer Doug Bishop said the motor vehicle department has process 341 car titles, 1,367 car tags and 160 liens since March 16, the day the office closed.

“I am proud of my co-workers,” Bishop said in the Tuesday letter. “They have maintained the highest level of service possible under very restrictive conditions. We will continue to do so as long as possible.”

On average, motor vehicle department staff report anywhere from 25 to 50 car titles, 125 to 200 car tags and 20 to 25 liens on a regular day.

Although the county did experience drops in service the day the department blocked public entry and when the courthouse officially closed its doors temporarily, staff did more closely meet those regular averages.

For instance, staff reported a daily average of 31 car titles, about 124 car tags and roughly 14 liens between March 16-30. However, Bishop said radio station ads and an ad in the Jasper County Advertiser “helped tremendously.”

“They can pay online,” Bishop said. “But there are a lot of folks that just like to come in and see us. They like to hand us a check over, they like to get a receipt and chat for a minute. That just has to be a little bit different this time.”

For the most part, he added, nearly all customers are understanding of the situation staff is in.

“I honestly think they appreciate the fact that we’re willing to come in and get the job done,” Bishop said.

To meet social distancing requirements, staff have opted to work from home, stagger hours or work after hours. Bishop said workers are maintaining their distance and still getting the job done.

“The work is getting done,” he added. “It’s just getting done a little bit differently. We have people that will call in and we’ll walk them through a car title or walk them through making a tax payment online.”

There is also a dropbox inside the west lobby of the courthouse for property tax payments and motor vehicle transactions. Clerks are guiding customers through the process and providing them the paperwork they need, too.

“Basically, the only thing the folks are missing are the face-to-face contact at the counter and taking a day or two to mail things out,” Bishop said. “Other than that they’re getting their business taken care of.”

Bishop also said the county has collected nearly $10 million in property taxes, and he has expedited the tax apportioning process for this month. The county treasurer and his staff plan to work solely on apportioning on April 2 and have it sent that same day.

“This will provide much needed funds to over 120 different entities in Jasper County that will need those funds to continue operations in these trying times,” Bishop said in the letter. “This includes cities, townships, fire departments, rescue units, etc.”

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext 6560 or at cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

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