County down to single DMV office with Clifton closure
After today, there will only be one place Mesa County residents can go for in-person Division of Motor Vehicle services.
That’s because the Clifton DMV office, the final one outside of the main office at 200 S. Spruce St., will close.
Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner said she didn’t like having to close two DMV offices this year — the Fruita office closed on Nov. 15 — but said she had do it so the county could put the savings into other services, such as the Sheriff’s Office or the District Attorney’s Office, which say they really need budget increases.
Still, there’s no guarantee that the Mesa County Commission will allocate that savings, which Reiner estimates to be at about $165,000, to one or both of those other offices.
That’s an 8 percent reduction in Reiner’s budget.
“I did it for the whole of the county, really, because I am compelled by the sheriff’s and district attorney’s (budget) requests, and I believe that’s a true need,” Reiner said. “I also understand that the county doesn’t have more money to give them.”
To make it work, Reiner had to lay off four workers, two of whom worked in other divisions in her office.
The remainder all will move to the main office, where Reiner and her staff plan to do their best to keep wait times at the DMV to a minimum.
Currently, the average wait time is about 15 minutes, but Reiner doesn’t believe it’s realistic to be able to maintain that. Instead, she’s hoping for one that’s no more than 30 minutes.
To make that happen, she and her DMV staff will be meeting today to discuss work schedules for everyone, including some middle managers who will have to work one of the 10 desks at the main office.
After today’s closing, Reiner will have a staff of 29 people, 17 of whom work in the DMV office.
“One of the things we’re planning to do when we have this bolstered staff at the main office is continually keep all the desks full,” Reiner said. “Currently, what people see when they come in, especially during the lunch hours, half of our desks are empty. Now, we will keep a clerk at each desk throughout the day.”
She said the public can help, and save themselves having to wait in line, if they use the state’s online license plate renewal system more. Currently, about 33 percent of the walk-in business the DMV office gets is for simple tasks, such as renewals.
Reiner also said another thing that will help reduce wait times is a new Department of Revenue pilot project that will add kiosks around the state to handle simple DMV jobs, one of which will be at the Spruce Street office.
That kiosk, however, will be limited to the same things the online system allows, which primarily are plate renewals.
The clerk also plans to add a second person to work the office’s phone desk, which is used to help people with simple DMV needs.
“We’ll have two help-desk folks available for phone transactions instead of just one,” Reiner said. “People can also do transactions by mail.”
The closures are the latest Reiner had been forced to do for budgetary reasons in recent years. First came the closure of the DMV office on Orchard Mesa in 2010 and two at Mesa Mall and the old County Courthouse building in 2012.
The Fruita office only amounted to about 6 percent of all the county’s DMV traffic, and Reiner said she’s heard few complaints since that office was closed.
She’s not expecting that to be the case after the Clifton office closes, which amounted to about 23 percent of all DMV monthly business. Four people and one manager handled the average of 5,560 monthly transactions there.
The closure makes Mesa County tied with Pueblo County when it comes to having only one DMV office among the state’s 10 largest counties. More populated counties have three while others have as many as eight.