Green River Star -

By David Martin
Editor 

Expect to wait at courthouse

Treasurer encourages online, mail payments

 

David Martin

Denise Welch and Tonya Torpey wait outside the Sweetwater County Treasurer's Office Friday afternoon. Behind them stretches a line of residents waiting to go into the office.

The line extended outside the Sweetwater County Courthouse's main entrance Friday afternoon.

"We've made a few new friends here," Tasha Urbatsch, one of the many people waiting in line said.

Residents looking to pay their vehicle taxes were forced to wait, sometimes nearly an hour, to make their way to the county treasurer's office. Urbatsch said she waited about half an hour before she made it to the doors leading into the treasurer's office. Sweetwater County Treasurer Robb Slaughter said others timed their wait and told him they were in line for 50 minutes or more.

Some, like Tonya Torpey, had recently bought a new vehicle and needed to pay the taxes on their purchase. Others, such as Denise Welch, admitted they waited to the last minute to pay their taxes. Welch said she came to the courthouse on her lunch break.

"It slipped my mind," Welch said. "We're going camping this weekend and I realized I didn't get my camper tags."

While long lines outside the treasurer's aren't uncommon on the last day of the month, Slaughter does warn residents their wait could be longer and suggests using the online payment service or physical mail to avoid waiting at the courthouse. Slaughter said his office was fully staffed Friday, but is operating with one less person.

"Due to budget cuts implemented by the Sweetwater County Commission for the 2018 fiscal year, my office will be staffed with one less person in the future," Slaughter stated in a media release. "While the reduction of one position may not sound significant, that is 10 percent of my staff and that will increase the burden on each of my employees."

Slaughter said the employee took an early retirement option offered by the county. The program is offered to employees close to retirement age in positions that can have their responsibilities spread amongst other employees. The county then saves money as the position is closed out when the employee leaves.

Slaughter said his office usually deals with large volumes of traffic during lunch hours, as well as on Mondays and Fridays and the first and last days of the month. With the staffing decrease, he said the wait will likely be longer. To help deal with potentially long waiting periods, Slaughter has restructured his office to ensure three customer service windows will be open at all times. He also implemented a policy to allow only one employee vacation during a week and has moved one of his clerks from the back office to the customer service windows on Mondays and Fridays. He said the office will continue to have three separate lunch periods to maximize staff working with customers and said all of the clerks are cross trained to handle tax and motor-vehicle services.

"It is my hope that these changes will allow us to keep at least three windows open at all times," Slaughter stated in a media release. "By doing so, we can minimize wait times at all but the most congested times."

Slaughter also said his staff continues to be committed to offering the best service they can and will continue to do so, to the best of their ability.

 

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