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BCSO to drop VIN inspections
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After this week, the Barton County Sheriff’s Office will no longer provide VIN inspections for vehicles coming to Kansas from other states, Sheriff Greg Armstrong said. Kansas Highway Patrol will take over the program, but with reduced hours.

Vehicle Identification Numbers are used to check the title history of a vehicle. Motor vehicle title inspections are required when licensing a vehicle in Kansas which has an out-of-state title.

The BCSO did inspections in front of the jail on Kansas Avenue from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and 1 to 5 p.m. on Thursdays. The sheriff’s office would also travel to car dealerships if multiple inspections were needed.

With the county dropping the service, the responsibility for inspections returns to the state. Trooper Steve Billinger said KHP will take over on Jan. 4. "We plan on checking VINs at the same location the public is accustomed to," Billinger said, but they will only be available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Jerry Marmie at Marmie Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep in Great Bend said he’s not sure how well the change in service will work. "We were very happy with the way it was," Marmie said Monday. "We will get in a group of program cars from out state. (When that happened) it was very handy to call and have them come to our place and do a whole group." Reducing the inspections from two days a week to one is also a concern, he said. "From a car dealer’s perspective, we need to keep our inventory turning."

Armstrong said his office started offering VIN inspections in March 2009 and has done close to 1,000 inspections this year. The county keeps $9 of the $10 inspection fee, with the remaining $1 going to the state. In the past, Armstrong said, the county put the money in its general fund but budgeted $10,000 back to the sheriff’s office.

"We were not funded for 2011 to do the program," Armstrong said.

Barton County Financial Officer Janet Crane said $10,000 was budgeted for VIN inspections in 2010, but only $1,000 was budgeted for 2011. The money is considered part of the BCSO budget, she said.

Armstrong said he’d be willing to continue the service if his department could just keep the money it brings in.

County Administrator Richard Boeckman said Kansas law states that money collected by the sheriff’s office should go to the county general fund. There are exceptions; for example, state law allows law enforcement offices to keep money seized in drug raids. But in the absence of a specific statute, he said, the money goes to the county.