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Driver's License Bureau Could Return to Keokuk

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The most controversial aspect of the reorganization of four Lee County departments in mid-2011 could soon be reversed.

The County Auditor and Treasurer moved their entire offices to the North Lee County Office Building in Fort Madison while the County Assessor and Recorder set up shop in the South Lee County Courthouse in Keokuk.

Supporters praised the restructuring for saving the county several hundred thousand dollars.  Opponents, though, denounced it for restricting access to government services.

The move forced then County Treasurer Janet Strunk to close the driver's license bureau in Keokuk.  In turn, it prompted Chris Spann to enter the race to replace Strunk, who retired at the end of 2014. 

"I feel like Keokuk has lost a service they should not have lost," said Spann.  "We pay the same amount of taxes as people in north Lee County and so I want to restore services back to Keokuk.”

Spann was victorious and announced her plans to make good on that pledge roughly an hour after taking the oath of office as Treasurer.  She intends to open a satellite office in Keokuk while maintaining her main office in Fort Madison.

"I will be able to do driver's licenses 2-3 days/week (in Keokuk)," said Spann.  "And if someone buys a car and they need to know how much their title will be, I should be able to figure how much that is."

Spann is confident she can accomplish this by moving workers between the two locations and by closing the driver's license bureau in one city when it is open in the other.

She said, though, that her budget cannot cover any additional expenses for moving or for technology.

Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Matt Pflug said that should not be a problem.

“It’s going to take a few extra dollars to do that," said Pflug.  "But again, people pay for services in this county when they pay for taxes.  They expect that, so hopefully this board is going to buy into it.”

The plan requires more than just the county board's financial support.  It also requires approval from the Iowa Department of Transportation.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.