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Tax office to upgrade processing system

Profile image for By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer
By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer

The processing of vehicle registrations and property tax payments in Denton County is about to get a whole lot faster.

The upgrade comes courtesy of a new remittance processing system that Tax Assessor-Collector Michelle French will be purchasing in the next few weeks. The system will cut the payment process in half compared to current averages, increasing the efficiency of her office.

“That’s going to have such a great impact for our taxpayers, because we can process and mail back more quickly,” French said.

Using auto registration as an example, she said that on average, her office receives 8,000 to 10,000 renewals every month with a large percentage of that coming in toward the end of the month. She said it may take up to five days to turn around registration, with 250 renewals taking one person about eight hours to process.

Not anymore.

“This can process [that amount] in about four hours, which is extremely exciting for us,” French said.

County Judge Mary Horn, who served as tax assessor-collector from January 1993 to March 2002, said the technology has the potential for significant improvement for the office.

“I wish that technology was available when I was there,” Horn said.

The system is being purchased from R.T. Lawrence, a California- based firm that offers a variety of products and services such as remittance processing solutions, lockbox service solutions and e-payment processing service.

French said the system will cost the county about $135,116 and features a combination opener and sorter. It has technology that is able to scan and digitize the contents of the envelopes, check records, registration, renewal or property tax information. The software is able to read and upload the payment information into the correct software and account, with what French said would be “hardly having a keystroke to register those manually.”

French said she has been looking at the technology for the past few years. Nine counties in the state use the system and French said she is pleased with what she heard after talking to some officials from those counties. Once the software became able to process motor vehicle registrations, she said it was a must-have for the county.

“We feel it’s ready for Denton County,” she said. “We feel we’re at that point where we would have to ask for more staff members or use technology. I prefer to stay within the budgetary line items as much as I possibly can and save taxpayer dollars. If this is a vehicle to allow us to do that, we’re excited to get it in.”

French said it will take some time to purchase the equipment and software in the office and get staff trained to use it. She said she does not anticipate having to let go any member of her staff because of the efficiency of the new system.

“We will be able to divert some of our staff members currently working on the phone or on the counters, to be able to assist taxpayers more fully,” she said. “We’re just so excited and so very grateful to the commissioners court and the capital improvement committee for taking the information in and recommending it to the court that we get it funded now — for seeing the value in this and allowing us to move forward so we can go ahead and help our taxpayers now instead of later in the year.”

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.