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Ezgov, others cut through red tape online

Doing business with local government is becoming slightly less annoying as more U.S. cities and counties start offering services on the Net.

Doing business with local government is becoming slightly less annoying as more U.S. cities and counties start offering services online.

California's Riverside County, for one, will allow its residents to pay property taxes on the Net beginning March 15 through a government assistance program offered by Ezgov.com.

The service for Riverside, which was announced today, comes a week before the county's treasurer and tax collector, Paul McDonnell, will auction tax-delinquent properties online.

"We are taking the next logical step in delivering services to the citizens of Riverside County by providing round-the-clock access to government information and services," McDonnell said in a statement released today.

Although government has been slow to embrace the Net, McDonnell's efforts in Riverside seem to be part of a growing trend among public agencies looking to expedite the frequently bothersome business of dealing with bureaucracy.

Through Ezgov, based in Atlanta, Ga., those living in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Michigan and other states will be able to pay parking tickets with just a few mouse clicks. In Idaho and Kansas, hunting and fishing licenses are issued on the Web.

Other services available through Ezgov include the renewal of auto tags and searches for deed information.

Founded early last year, Ezgov joins other Web businesses trying to cater to government. NetClerk.com, for instance, helps contractors navigate the permit application process, saving a trip to city hall.

McDonnell, a former investment banker who took the position of Riverside's tax collector nearly two years ago, first turned to the Web when he noticed that tax-delinquent luxury vacation resorts were not faring well at live auctions.

He is betting that the online auctions, which debut Jan. 31, will tap into a broader audience interested in the chance to bid on a resort home.

In turn, allowing property owners an easier way to pay taxes will likely cut down on the number of homes that go into default, said Tom Mullen, Riverside's chief deputy treasurer and tax collector.