Budget Adjustment Keeps Driver License Stations Open
HELENA – Department of Justice officials announced Friday that a significant budget adjustment worked out in collaboration with the state’s Office of Budget and Program Planning means 23 driver license stations slated for closure July 1 will remain open.
The announcement comes one week after the Motor Vehicle Division of the department announced the impending closure of the driver license stations due to a $340,000 annual budget shortfall.
The adjustment was the result of a joint effort between DOJ officials and budget director Chuck Swysgood, DOJ Deputy Director Larry Fasbender said.
- An allocation of $96,000 per year will come from the Personal Services Contingency Account. The PSCA is allocated by the Legislature to the Governor’s Office of Budget and Program Planning. It may be distributed to agencies that exceed appropriated personnel expenses.
- Turning six vehicles back to the state motor pool creates $36,000 in savings. The vehicles had been used for MVD staff to travel to remote driver license stations. Vehicles for travel will be acquired on an as-needed basis.
- Another $4,100 savings comes from a reduction of rent at stations in Livingston and Choteau. Park County officials have agreed to the reduction and the same request will be made in Teton County.
“The department was committed to living within the budget the Legislature appropriated,” Fasbender said. “We take our fiscal responsibility seriously and had a hard time deciding to make the cuts. We didn’t ask for this.”
The change comes after a week in which dozens of elected officials and Montana citizens called, wrote and e-mailed the Department of Justice and the Governor’s office in hopes of keeping the stations open.
“We didn’t want to close these stations in the first place,” Motor Vehicle administrator Dean Roberts said. “We’re pleased to be able to find a way to keep them open.”
While the budget adjustment will keep the license stations open, it does not eliminate the need for further cuts. Fasbender said the Department of Justice will continue to cope with budget reductions throughout the department in months to come.