Efforts to reduce Nevada DMV lines move forward in Legislature

CARSON CITY – A joint budget subcommittee on Tuesday voted to support both short- and long-term fixes to help reduce long wait times at crowded Department of Motor Vehicle offices in Southern Nevada.

The panel voted in favor of 59 new positions to more fully staff the DMV offices to take some quick action on the long lines. The positions would become effective on July 1, with the new employees starting work sometime in September after undergoing training.

The subcommittee split on a request for 16 other counter positions. This difference will have to be resolved as the DMV budget is finalized.

The joint Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance subcommittee also endorsed a long-term fix, a new $109.4 million computer system that will take five years to bring fully on line.

Funding for the project in the two years of the new budget totals $47.5 million, including a new $1 technology fee on transactions that would raise $9.8 million. The remainder of the funding for the upcoming budget, $37.7 million, would come from the state highway fund.

In addition to the budget vote by the joint subcommittee, a separate bill will also be processed to approve the new computer system. Senate Bill 502 is in the Senate Finance Committee.

Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, supported the budget request but expressed concern that the new $1 fee has no sunset date.

But even with the long lines and sometimes frustrated customers, a separate budget proposal to create an “active shooter” program aimed at improving the agency response to a possible shooting at a DMV office won’t be part of the agency budget. The request was withdrawn after it was criticized by some lawmakers at a hearing earlier this year.

Kevin Ranft, a lobbyist with AFSCME Local 4041, thanked the panel for the new staffing, but also asked lawmakers to consider the safety and security of the employees at the DMV offices as the session comes to a close over the next few weeks.

The subcommittee actions will need to be approved by both money committees, and ultimately by the full Legislature as part of Gov. Brian Sandoval’s $7.3 billion budget.

The growth in DMV customers is especially acute in Southern Nevada. Customer counts at the four Las Vegas metropolitan offices increased from 1.43 million in 2013 to 1.73 million in 2014, a 28 percent increase.

The growth in customers, due in part to new programs including Real ID-compliant drivers licenses, has led to waits of several hours for residents.

The Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee will oversee the computer project, which is expected to come on line in parts rather than all at once.

Troy Dillard, director of the DMV, said in prior testimony that every effort is being made in the process to ensure that the roll-out is smooth. It will be done in phases, unlike the problem-plagued Project Genesis computer roll-out in 1999, he said.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801

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