Shortening the Lines 

county commission

Karen Newman 

After hearing complaints about long wait times at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the Clay County Personnel Issues Committee (PIC), recommended measures to remedy the situation.  As the board approved a motion to hire one full-time and one variable-hour employee for the DMV, Commission Chair Kevin Campbell quipped, “Help is on the way.”

Lori Johnson, Clay County auditor presented a recommendation which would enable two staff persons be added to DMV staff.  Johnson explained that at the present time, one of the fully-trained DMV staff is pulled from licensing duty to facilitate the check-in process for individuals having business with the DMV.  PIC proposes the hiring of a variable-hour administrative staff person to do the check-in duties.  Hiring an administrative staffer at this level requires minimal training.  Johnson said, “That would move a fully trained person immediately into a window.” The PIC committee also plans to move a current variable-hour, fully-trained employee to full-time which would add another person to window duty.

Johnson illustrated the need for additional employees by referring to a survey of wait times and transaction times for DMV customers during the first half of April. The average wait time was 54 minutes.  The average transaction time was 10 minutes.  However, Johnson said that some business can require considerably more time, citing a recent customer’s one-hour transaction because that individual needed to access more than one DMV service.

Presenting data she compiled representing DMV staff schedules with the addition of two proposed additional employees, Johnson said, “There would be a significant difference in open windows.  I think that would really help the wait times and, with the approval of these two employees, it would be an immediate result.”

Commission Chair Kevin Campbell remarked that the approaching deadline for the Real ID licenses increased the workload for the DMV. He made clear that with the October 1date to obtain the new license, consumers shouldn’t have to deal with long wait times.  Speaking as a member of the PIC committee, he said, “We did recommend that we approve this with the idea in mind, certainly going through October, that our citizens aren’t put through these wait times if we can open more windows.” He added, “It can be under review again after the Real ID is done.”  According to Johnson, the DMV has employee retirements occurring in the new future, so new employees have the prospect of continuing with the department through attrition after the Real ID rush concludes.

Campbell warned that the increased wait times may lead to potential customers going to another county to do licensing or accessing an on-line option which would result in a loss of revenue for Clay County. With the approval of the request, Johnson estimates that an additional 2-3 windows would be open for all time slots. Campbell added that when the public is waiting for their turn to complete a transaction, employees are working behind the scenes on paperwork required for DMV functions.  Open windows do not indicate staff is absent.

Thanking DMV staff for their work, Commissioner Jenny Mongeau cautioned the public, “We remodeled the site at Moorhead Center Mall for future growth. Just because there are ‘X’ amount of windows, doesn’t mean that it is the intention that there be twelve or thirteen windows open.”

Campbell concluded, “I think this is something that our citizens would really appreciate.”

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