New DMV notices expected to save the state money and protect your privacy -
Published Monday, July 29, 2013 at 12:30 am / Updated at 7:56 am
New DMV notices expected to save the state money and protect your privacy

LINCOLN — Starting this fall, Nebraska vehicle owners could see some changes to an unwelcome annual routine.

Instead of receiving postcards or letters from the county treasurer notifying them to renew their vehicle licenses, they will soon get letters sent by the state.

The change won't make it any easier to pay the registration on cars, trucks, boats and trailers.

But Rhonda Lahm, director of the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles, said it should better protect people's privacy and help control government costs.

State lawmakers agreed. Earlier this year they approved a bill switching to a centralized notification system with little debate and no dissenting votes.

State Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton, chairwoman of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, assured colleagues the change would not affect how citizens pay their registrations.

People will still deal with their county treasurer to register vehicles and renew license plates. They can renew in person at the office, by mail or online. In Douglas County, they also can renew over the telephone.

“Nothing changes except where the notification comes from,” Dubas said. “It actually makes the system more efficient and better able to get the notifications to the citizens in a timely fashion.”

People in Douglas and Lancaster Counties may barely notice the difference in the notices. Both counties already send letters for the annual reminders.

The letters sent by the state will list the local county treasurer at the top and use that office as the return address.

The other 91 counties now send out postcards, which are provided by the state.

Lahm said switching to letters has several advantages. It protects the privacy of vehicle owners. It allows for sending several notices in one envelope to owners with multiple vehicles.

It also allows the state to get rid of the outdated dot-matrix printers that the state provides to those 91 counties. Maintaining the printers has become increasingly difficult.

But replacing them with 91 laser printers would be costly for the state and for the counties, because the laser printers cannot accommodate the postcards.

Lahm said going to a centralized system can reduce printing costs. The state also can take full advantage of bulk mail rates, which has been difficult for smaller counties.

County treasurers generally welcome the move, which takes effect in October for renewals that are due in November.

Sarpy County Treasurer Rich James said he and his staff are looking forward to the change.

He said it means they won't have to baby-sit the printer for hours and will be able to scan the bar codes on the renewal forms to call up information, instead of typing in numbers manually.

“My thought was this was a good thing. Most of the treasurers did,” James said.

Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing Jr. said he doesn't expect the new system to be a problem for his office, and estimated that it could even save the office a little money.

To pay for the change, the state will get 50 cents for each registration. The money will come out of the existing $2 fee charged on each registration.

Ewing's one concern was that the state does not plan to include return envelopes in the mailings.

He said standard return envelopes allow license renewals to be opened with a machine and processed more efficiently. He said he is working with the state to find a solution.

But Lancaster County Treasurer Andy Stebbing is hoping that county can go its own way on renewal notices.

He expects that his office will lose money on the change because it costs $1.72 to process a registration — more than the $1.50 remaining for the counties.

He also is concerned about losing the efficiency of standard return envelopes and losing the opportunity to tailor letters for local residents.

“They mean well,” Stebbing said of the state. “It's just not for us, is all.”

Contact the writer: Martha Stoddard    |   402-473-9583    |  

Martha covers the Nebraska Legislature, the governor, state agencies, and health, education and budget issues out of our Lincoln bureau.

Teen killed at Gallagher Park was shot in head as he sat in SUV, friend who was wounded says
PAC funded by Senate candidate Ben Sasse's great-uncle releases Shane Osborn attack ad
Nikko Jenkins found guilty of 4 murders
High school slam poets don't just recite verses, 'they leave their hearts beating on the stage'
Attorney: Man accused of trying to open plane's door needs psychiatric evaluation
49-year-old sentenced to 40-50 years for attempted sex assault of child
Brothers looking for pot sentenced for violent home invasion
At Boys Town panel, experts stress it's never too early to educate children
Kelly: New $24M UNO center embodies spirit of newlywed crash victim
Gov. Heineman calls 2014 a 'very good year for Nebraska taxpayers'
Ex-Iowan behind landmark free speech case recounts story in Bellevue
Arrest made in teen's shooting death at Benson's Gallagher Park
Section of 50th Street to close for bridge demolition
Rather than doing $250K in repairs, owner who lives in lot behind 94-year-old house in Dundee razes it
Plans for new $16M YMCA in Council Bluffs at 'critical juncture'
Woodmen request would take nearly $40M in valuation from tax rolls
With fixed AC, Fort Calhoun's nuclear station ends brief shutdown
Windy day could make driving difficult on east-west roads
Richard Brown steps down as Charles Drew Health Center CEO
OPD safety expo set for April 26
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Crew working to disassemble International Nutrition plant
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
18-year-old arrested in stolen-car case
U.S. Senate candidate Bart McLeay trails his 3 GOP rivals in fundraising
< >
Kelly: New $24M UNO center embodies spirit of newlywed crash victim
Jessica Lutton Bedient was killed by a drunken driver at age 26 in 2010. Thursday, the widowed husband and other family members will gather with others at the University of Nebraska at Omaha to dedicate a permanent memorial to Jessica.
Breaking Brad: How much would you pay for a corn dog?
The Arizona Diamondbacks have a new concession item: a $25 corn dog. For that kind of money, it should be stuffed with Bitcoin.
Breaking Brad: Pothole repair crew gets stuck in a pothole
In East Lansing, Mich., a pothole repair crew got stuck inside a pothole. How did this not happen in Omaha?
Breaking Brad: What do the moon, Colorado senators have in common?
How about that "blood red" moon Monday? It was as red as the eyes of a Colorado legislator.
Breaking Brad: Hey, Republicans, are you ready to be audited?
A quick list of audit red flags: 3) You fail to sign your return. 2) You fail to report income. 1) You are a registered Republican.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Shoreline Golf Club
$40 for 2 Players, 18 Holes of Golf with Cart ($85 Value)
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »