First Posted: 3/23/2009
Mount Airy motorists can, apparently, sigh a breath of relief come May 12, when the Department of Motor Vehicles will open an office to issue vehicle plates here.
The opening and well believe it when we see it comes nearly six months after the former office closed. That office was run by Ruth Hawks for more than three decades, and was closed after Hawks decided to retire.
At the time she gave the required 60-day notice to the DMV and that agency has been searching for a replacement ever since, on several occasions saying an announcement on a new office was just a couple of weeks away.
A couple of weeks grew into a month, then two, and ultimately it appears as if the city will be without an office for half a year by the time the new one is opened.
North Carolina license plate offices are not state agencies, but instead are owned and operated by private contractors doing business with the state. When one such private contractor opts to go out of business, the state is then saddled with the task of finding and training a suitable replacement.
According to DMV officials applicants are vetted, with their credit history, business background, and customer service record among factors considered in awarding a contract.
However, as this instance shows, there appear to be some flaws in the system. DMV officials said early on in the process Mount Airy would be without a DMV for at least a couple of months, because it takes more than two months to advertise for applicants, then review those applicants and make a choice, to say nothing of the training period to follow.
Yet a vendor can walk away with simply a 60-day notice?
This isnt like most private businesses. A DMV office is doing business with the public, on behalf of the state, and should be held to a standard which ensures that business is done in a professional, continuous manner. If the process of finding and training a DMV vendor is one that takes four months or more, wouldnt it make sense to require present vendors to give more than 60 days notice before closing? It would seem 90 days, and perhaps even 120 days, would be reasonable.
Let us hope state officials including our elected representatives in Raleigh, address this problem.