Fruita motor vehicle office survives cutbacks
Despite slashing $500,000 from its budget, the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s Office will keep the Fruita motor-vehicle branch open two days a week next year and extend business hours at all three branches in the county.
Beginning Jan. 3 and continuing at least through March 31, the Fruita office at 325 E. Aspen Ave. will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. It’s currently open 7:30 to 4:30 Monday through Friday.
The other branches that process motor-vehicle transactions — at Mesa Mall and at 3225 Interstate 70 Business Loop in Clifton — will stay open an extra hour for the first quarter of the year.
“We want to beef up staffing levels at the two main branches that see the most people as often as we can and still provide a service to Fruita,” said Chief Deputy Clerk Sheila Reiner, who will be sworn in next month as clerk and recorder.
The Clerk and Recorder’s Office’s budget will drop 23 percent, from $2.3 million this year to $1.8 million in 2011. Budget cuts earlier this year prompted the county to close the Orchard Mesa and courthouse motor-vehicle-division branches in October, and officials thought for a period of time the Fruita branch would close at the end of this year.
The Fruita branch processes the fewest transactions of any branch — just 11 percent last month, compared to 40 percent at the mall and 31 percent in Clifton. But Reiner noted that without the Fruita branch, Lower Valley residents would have to drive farther than any other highly populated area of the valley to register vehicles or obtain license plates.
“Geographically, they’re farther out,” she said. “They’re a pocket of population that still needs to be provided service.”
The extra hour the offices are open should help employees shoulder the increased workload created when the Orchard Mesa and courthouse branches closed. Reiner also noted the county is cross-training employees in other divisions to help at the end of the month, which is usually the busiest time.
The county isn’t committing to the extra business hours and keeping the Fruita office open for two days a week beyond the first quarter of next year. Reiner said officials will assess how the schedule works before they decide whether to extend it beyond March.