Bureaucratic Two-Step

September 04, 2006

The current car I have was purchased in Illinois about three years ago. The dealer worked with us and we were able to get a fantastic loan through a small local bank. Only 5% interest, and the payments were exactly what we wanted.

The move to Kansas was almost perfectly timed to happen about the time the license plate required renewal, so it was easy to not transfer the plate to Kansas the first year. Last August however, the plate was due to expire, so the property tax was paid and a Kansas tag acquired. Michele handled the transaction, which required coordination between the bank in Illinois, the State of Kansas, and Johnson County. As far as I knew (and for all I know, as far as Michele knew) we were now a part of the system here in Kansas.

In late July I got the renewal notice for the tag and, like the rest of you, managed to put it off until the final week. Discovering that I didn't have a PIN number that would allow an online renewal, I mailed proof of insurance, the signed form, and a check for $324.40 to the county clerk.

Today in the mail I got an envelop from the County that I assumed contained the new sticker. [Aside: I normally do not open mail that comes on Friday or Saturday. Rarely does good news come on those days, and bad news can't be dealt with until Monday anyway. Or Tuesday on a holiday weekend such as this. My mistake was opening the envelope.] It turns out it wasn't the sticker but rather all the paperwork I'd mailed off, my check, and a form indicating that I need to call the State with regards to my vehicle title.

Lovely.

After a series of calls to the State of Kansas and to my lender in Illinois I discovered that I was trapped between two competing bureaucracies - neither of which was inclined to bend. Kansas requires an original title to the vehicle - they want to title it IN Kansas. The lender in Illinois doesn't allow loans on vehicles that are titled out of state. The bank refuses to waive in-state requirement, and Kansas (a considerably larger organization than the bank, and one with an armed police force) isn't budging either. I did manage to get an exemption for this year which will allow me to get a sticker for my plate, but I have to go in person to the county building.

There were roughly 200 people in line ahead of me at 1:00 this afternoon. I was number 808 and they were serving number 596. I'll go back at the opening bell on Tuesday.

The exemption buys me a year, but ultimately I am going to have to re-finance the car here in Kansas to get out of this trap. The current rates for used cars are running about 9 or 9.25 percent. Almost double what I've got now. Phooey. However, there is a silver lining - I think I should be able to vastly reduce the monthly car payment by extending the term of the loan. Knocking three or four hundred dollars off the monthly payment will ease my budget nicely.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.