Treasurer’s Office remains busy with out-of-county customers

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     It was County Treasurer Amy Picray's turn to provide a department update to the Jones County Supervisors.

   Picray has ben working in the Treasurer's Office for 26 years. She ran unopposed in the Nov. 8 General Election, now in her fifth term as treasurer.

   Picray started working for former County Treasurer, Jan Miller, right out of college.

   "I graduated from the University of Wyoming on a Saturday, moved to Iowa on a Monday, and started in the office the following Monday," she recalled.

   Picray's first 10 years in the Treasurer's Office, she served as the tax deputy. When Miller resigned in 2006, Picray was appointed to fill the remainder of Miller's term. In November 2006, she was elected to her first term in office.

   Now that the summer has come to an end, Picray said the driver's license (DL) appointments aren't scheduled out quite as far as earlier in the year.

   "For a while, our drive-test appointments were out about two to three weeks. Now, generally, you can get in within a week for a drive test."

   Something new in Picray’s office: contiguous (initial) title transfers.

   "It can be done in a contiguous county, so residents in Linn, Delaware, Jackson, Dubuque, or Cedar can come here to have a title transfer done," explained Picray.

   This service was started in March. Since then, Jones County has issued 135 contiguous titles to people from other counties. Jones County residents have been issued 56 contiguous titles by other counties. Picray said the majority coming to Jones are from Linn County.

   "Word is still publicly getting out," she said.

   When out-of-county residents come here for a title transfer, they are issued Jones County plates. Jones County receives a little bit of revenue from this business transaction, but not much.

   "It takes a lot of staff time," noted Picray.

   Most of the transfers are for private vehicle sales; very little from dealerships.

   "In some situations, it's made things simpler for customers. We try to be really good about letting them know that you can do this initial title transfer here, but you can't renew your tags here. And if you ever lose this title, you’re going to have to come back to us because replacement titles have to be issued by the county that originally issued the title."

   As a department leader and working woman, Picray said it's important to her to try and understand other people's working schedules, meaning they may not be able to make it to the Treasurer's Office during business hours.

   "I always really try to stress with my staff how can we help customers get done what they need to do without inconveniencing them."

   Technology is huge within Picray's office, and they allow customers to take care of business electronically, too, if needed. Various applications can be found on Picray's website. Payment options are available online as well.

   "One payment option we added that is really nice is 'miscellaneous office payment,'" she said. "We can send an email to a customer requesting that they make a payment by e-check or credit card instead of having them come in. We can shoot them an email and they can submit the payment that way. Convenience is important to me. I try to understand the situation others are in and what can we do to make it a better experience for them."

   Supervisor Jeff Swisher asked Picray about long-standing legislation she's been pushing, along with the County Treasurer's Association. She'd like to see state legislation where out-of-county customers get charged a $10 convenience fee when they renew their DLs in Jones County.

   "Lee Hein was one of our biggest advocates," praised Picray. "It's disappointing we won't have him to help us with it."

   She told the board she has been in touch with Legislators Steve Bradley and Carrie Koelker.

   "It's very important to me; I'm very passionate about it," she said. "We're happy to provide the service to people, but it shouldn't be a burden on the taxpayers in Jones County."

   Picray added that the Association is also looking at legislation that would allow out-of-county residents to conduct a lot more business in other counties, not just DLs.

   "It's kind of the way things are going," warned Picray. "Hunting licenses you can do in any county; DLS in any county."

   Picray said she wants to be "at the table" and in the midst of any discussion when this does come around.

   "I'm very passionate about that there needs to be a revenue stream tied to this," she added. "It can't be like DLs where Jones County property owners are subsidizing the cost of the service."

   The board members thanked Picray and her staff for their great customer service.


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