Thursday, October 01, 2015

Budget cuts force Alabama to close 31 part-time rural DMV offices

UPDATE, Oct. 19: "In a change of course, Gov. Robert Bentley Friday evening announced that the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency would return driver’s license examiners to 31 rural counties," Brian Lyman reports for the Montgomery Advertiser. "A statement from the governor’s office said an examiner would spend at least one day each month in each of the counties slated to lose part-time examiners under budget cuts announced by ALEA at the end of last month."

Alabama Republican Gov. Robert Bentley announced this week the closure of 31 part-time  Department of Motor Vehicle offices—all in rural areas—as part of $11 million in cuts to the budget of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agenc. Officials in rural areas, like Lowndes County, where the office was only open one day per week, "say cuts could have been made elsewhere," reports Allen Henry for WSFA-12 in Montgomery. County Commission Chairman Robert Harris told Henry, "Look at other places, other than the rural counties that don't have what the other, larger counties have. And I think if you did a cost analysis across, it wouldn't affect the budget that much where they couldn't be open for that one day."

Nine closed offices are in small communities in the central part of the state, meaning longer drives to other offices, Sarah Synder reports for WBMA-LD in Birmingham. St. Clair County resident Juanita Ethredge told Snyder, "I think it'll be hard on people who live in this area especially if they have young people who are just starting to take their drivers test and just get their license. If they work and have time and have to take more time off to take them, it'll be an inconvenience."

Alabama issues about 1.2 million drivers licenses each year, Maxie Gardner reports for WHNT-19 in Huntsville. The 31 closed offices make up five percent of all issued licenses, with none of the offices issuing more than 2,000 in 2014. In anticipation of closures, ALEA in July announced it would begin renewals online and self-serve kiosks. The agency said it has already received more than 40,000 transactions online.

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