County studies DMV services

Published 9:12 am Tuesday, April 9, 2013

WINDSOR – Beginning in July state legislation will require citizens to pay their vehicle tax when they renew their registration and the Bertie County Board of Commissioners want to make sure a local license plate agency is prepared for that task.

The commissioners are studying the possibility of moving the license plate agency in Windsor if the current office, which is operated by an employee from the Windsor-Bertie Chamber of Commerce, could not handle the additional workload.

Last Wednesday, Tax Administrator Hosea Wilson presented the board with a proposed budget if the county would take over operation of the license plate agency and additional information on the day-to-day operations of that agency as required by the DMV.

For one full time employee there would be a cost of $55,881; for one and a quarter full time employee, $66,902; for one a half full time employees $75,724; and two full time employees, $93,367.

Wilson’s budget numbers included salary, benefits, supplies, a one time cost of $2,500 to up fit the office and other operational costs.

“The way the LPA is run right now is that there is one full time employee and she closes for lunch,” Wilson said. “(According to) the procedures manual it would have to operate the same hours of the county. We could close for 30 minutes at lunch, there would be coverage for this office at times when this employee was at lunch.”

Wilson provided a revenue estimate of $32,000. Wilson noted with the proposed additional fee of 48 cent per transaction the estimated revenue would be $40,000.

Commissioner Ronald “Ron” Wesson said the reason for requesting the budget was so the county would be able to capture the real cost of operating the License Plate Agency.

“But really it’s some what of a mute point in that right now the office is under, at least the tag portion, the Chamber,” he said. “Even though they said, in a letter to us, they thought it would be best done in conjunction with the county at one location to save citizens time, effort—the whole works. But what they wanted in recouping didn’t make sense to us. We thought it was kind of an outrageous amount.”

Wesson questioned if the county had any additional conversation with the Chamber to see if they wanted to give up the License Plate Agency duties.

“My concern is about how citizens would benefit best from where it’s located and who’s going to do it,” he said.

Wesson said he would be willing to sit down with the Chamber along with Interim County Manager John Whitehurst to discuss the matter.

After some discussion, Wilson noted the county has expenses the Chamber does not have.

“I strongly suggest looking at the policy manual on how to run one of these, there’s an awful lot to this,” he said.

He said the taxes collected by the License Plate Agency will not be under the control of the tax department. He added DMV is a separate entity and the two cannot be put together, rather in close proximity for the taxpayer.

“I agree with Mr. Wesson in that yes, it would be best situated in the same building, but it never has been,” he said. “Obviously the Chamber feels like it’s a revenue stream that’s valuable to them; it’s not as valuable to us because we have other expenses that they don’t have. We have other revenues we can depend on if we decide we’re going to put this across the hall, if we can put it across the hall.”

After more discussion, Commission Chair J. Wallace Perry directed Wesson and Whitehurst to meet with the Chamber.

On Monday, Whitehurst said he and Wesson would meet with Chamber officials on Tuesday.