Friday, September 20, 2019

County directs driver’s license office to find new location

Excessive crowding and long wait times

By Adam Broderick

If you’ve visited the state driver’s license office in Gunnison during the latter half of the past decade, you may have had to reschedule plans to accommodate the agency’s business hours and when you arrived, you may have waited your turn much longer than expected. The office is open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and appointments cannot be scheduled online as at most other offices in Colorado.

Currently operating out of an office next to the Department of Motor Vehicles at the Blackstock Government Center at 221 N. Wisconsin Street in Gunnison, the driver’s license office must now find a new location. Via letter, the Board of County Commissioners notified the driver’s license administrators on September 14 that a new office needs to be found by the end of the year and the current office vacated by March 2016.

During a September board meeting, the county’s Public Works Department and commissioners alike explained their reasoning. There must be more space for DMV traffic, and overcrowding and excessively long wait times at the current office must be alleviated.

As stated in the letter, “The Clerk’s office needs the space to accommodate motor vehicle traffic, and it is obvious that your Gunnison office needs more space and additional hours of service. When the office is open the entire lobby of the Government Center is filled with people waiting to get a license. It is difficult for the staff in [Gunnison County’s] Treasurer’s and Assessor’s office to provide quality service to their customers due to the congestion and the noise.”

According to Marlene Crosby, director of the Public Works Department, when the agency moved into the current office more than 10 years ago in July 2005, they were told by Gunnison County that they would get an exceptional rent rate so their customers would have a good experience.

That has not been the case. “But two hours of a wait… Recently there were something like 42 people in there, some laying on the floor,” Crosby said.

Commissioner Paula Swenson agreed with Crosby. “I’ve sat there trying to get my license renewed. Kids are sitting out there taking exams at the same time. There’s nowhere for people to do what they need to do,” she said.

“When you can drive to Montrose, get in and get out, and get back by the time you would have spent just sitting there, it’s ridiculous,” Crosby said.

The agency has paid $152.70 per month in rent to the county since July 2005, even though the lease expired in 2007 and has not since been extended or replaced. But Crosby says the office agreed, based on its own numbers, that its services could be improved.

The county has suggested multiple options for a new office location, but little effort has been made by the agency. Facilities and Grounds director Jon Cattles recommended playing hardball and asking the agency to leave.

“They think they’re going to find the perfect location that’s the perfect size,” said Cattles. “That’s not going to work in Gunnison. With no axe hanging over them, they’ve done very little. I think we need to place a deadline on them.”

“The thing we don’t want to do is lose them or their service to the county,” Swenson said.

The letter sent to the agency states the driver’s license office must have a new location by December 31, 2015 and must move by February 28, 2016.

As stated in the letter, “It is time for your agency to move forward and secure a location that better suits your needs. By December 31 of this year we need to know that you have secured a location and also the number of days and hours that you will be open… We understand that there may be a delay in gaining occupancy and we are willing to work with you, but in all cases your last day in our facility [is] to be February 28, 2016.”

Numerous attempts were made to contact administrators at the Gunnison driver’s license office; however, no calls were answered and it is impossible to leave a voicemail. The forwarding numbers on the voicemail recording direct callers to the Colorado DMV. “You may not be able to leave any messages as they will not be returned,” the recording states.

It seems the quickest way to speak to someone in the office is to wait in a slow line. For now, at least.

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