Residents choosing to visit the Hardin County Clerk’s Office to renew vehicle registration have encountered lengthy lines and long waits over recent days. The line stretching down the Hardin County Government Building’s sidewalk has had young and old standing outside in the heat for hours.
What’s worse, many have worked their way through slow progression from one six-foot social distance spot to the next, coming within feet of the front doors, only to have to return to start the next day when being turned away as the office closes in the afternoon.
In short, the past few weeks have been a real customer service nightmare at the clerk’s office.
Hardin County Clerk Debbie Donnelly pointed to the three-day office closure for the state’s June 23 election as one of several contributing factors to the bottleneck.
Other challenges Donnelly noted include out-of-county motorists attempting to avoid lines or office closures in their home counties coming to Hardin County’s office to transact vehicle registration needs. A 90-day coronavirus-related extension afforded by the state to those whose registrations were due in March has compounded the recent volume, too, she adds.
No doubt, these hurdles extened the lines outside the clerk’s office doors – as well as the patience of those waiting to get inside.
For locals residing in the county’s north end, Donnelly’s closure of the Radcliff branch also is being blamed for the inconveniences of time and temperature experienced outside the county government offices in Elizabethtown.
It was a controversial and unwelcomed decision when announced in late 2018. At the time, no one possibly could have imagined the degree of disruption and difficulty the global pandemic has wrought on our lives. But predictions of resulting inconvenience, long waits and poor customer service made by those offended by the closure have come true nonetheless – at least in their minds.
As the saying goes, perception is reality.
Staff at the clerk’s office have provided water and snacks to those in line. While those gestures have been generous, more meaningful and impactful adjustments must be made to address the problem.
Perhaps in the interest of health, the state could temporarily waive the $2 fee charged for postage and handling to encourage more residents to log on at hccoky.org/vehicle.asp to renew their vehicle registration. Perhaps the same fee waiver also would encourage more to leave documentation and payment through use of the drop box outside the clerk’s office.
Moreover, whatever reason, there still will be those who choose to do business in-person. So, it is critical for Donnelly to figure out how to improve circumstances for those needing to come to her office.
She needs to extend office hours beyond 4:30 p.m. to accommodate more people through the afternoon. Rather than a single long line for every need, multiple lanes for specific needs should be implemented to speed getting people in the building and through their transaction needs. A senior citizen lane could reduce time in line for those more vulnerable the hot sun.
At the very least, tubs of iced water bottles – such as those offered recently by local resident Shelly Blankley from the bed of her pickup truck – and temporary sun shelters or misting fans along the side walk could go a long way to make the wait a bit more bearable.
This editorial reflects a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.