Budget Shortfall Forces Closure of Driver License Stations
HELENA – Twenty-three driver license stations will close and office hours or staff will be reduced in another four stations on July 1 because of substantial budget reductions made by the 2001 Legislature and an upgrade of the division’s field employees, Motor Vehicle Division administrator Dean Roberts announced Friday.
“The Motor Vehicle Division prides itself in providing good service to Montana drivers,” Roberts said, “but we are unable to maintain the same level of service in the face of a $681,000 budget shortfall over the next two years.”
Roberts explained that the $340,000 annual shortfall was caused by budget reductions made by the legislature through cuts and forced savings, and the reclassification of field staff due to increased workloads.
According to Roberts, while most of the stations to be closed are rural stations like Culbertson – which had only 35 customers in 2000 – some larger stations will be closed as well.
“Since most Montanans now have to renew their drivers license only once every eight years, we’re hoping that this won’t be too inconvenient,” Roberts said, “especially since people can renew their licenses any time six months before the birthday on which it expires.”
Department of Justice Deputy Director Larry Fasbender explained that the department’s budget has been hit by a “double whammy” – an 11 percent decrease in its travel budget and a cut in funding for staff salaries. Reducing driver license services will save the department $120,000 a year by eliminating a total of two-and-a-half positions, and by reducing rent, operating costs and the number of vehicles leased.
“Every division within the Department of Justice will be cutting back on travel and leaving vacant positions open for longer to deal with the budget reductions,” Fasbender said. “And I’m afraid this is just the beginning.”
A list of the stations to be closed and those subject to reduced staff or office hours is attached.
July 2001 Driver Licensing Station Closures
Stations to be closed:
White Sulphur Springs
Stations with reduced hours:
Stations with reduced staff: