County’s drivers license office to close | VailDaily.com
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County’s drivers license office to close

Veronica Whitney

It was the second time in a week he’d visited the state drivers license office, he said. The first time there was a problem with the fingerprinting machine.

“If I had to go to Summit County or Glenwood Springs to get this license, I would lose five hours of work,” said Hernandez, who gets paid by the hour.

His concerns will become reality at the end of October when the state Department of Revenue closes its drivers license office in Avon – the only one in Eagle County – because of budget cuts.

In a letter to Gov. Bill Owens, Eagle County commissioners have asked for his help in reversing the decision. When the office in Avon closes, they write, county residents will have to go to Glenwood Springs or Summit County to get a drivers license. State law requires anybody moving to Colorado change their license within 30 days.

“It would be difficult for people to comply if they don’t have a convenient place to go,” says Commissioner Tom Stone. “It’s a big mistake to make people drive over Vail Pass in the winter.”

County Administrator Jack Ingstad says it’s critical to keep the office open because Eagle County has the highest level of seasonal workers in Colorado. Between July 2001 and June 2002, the office in Avon issued 10,713 documents – drivers license and IDs – says Sandra Lowman, program assistant with the state Department of Revenue. By comparison, the office in Frisco issued 10,882 documents and Glenwood Springs, 19,967.

The department decided to shut down the Avon office because of the downturn in the economy – and the lease expired in June, says Peter Tool, spokesman for the state Department of Revenue. The department currently leases the office from Eagle County for $2,900 a month, he says.

“This won’t be the only closing across the state, and people can still renew licenses by mail,” Tool says. “If the economy turns around, the department will be interested in open another office (in Eagle County).”

Commissioner Arn Menconi says the closing will add a tremendous hardship on county workers

“The average person in this county is working more than one and a half jobs,” he says. “On top of that, they’ll have to drive to Summit County or Glenwood Springs to comply with state law.”

Access in Garfield County decreased in June when the Glenwood Springs drivers license office discontinued its Saturday service.

“And Summit County has said they can’t handle any more clients,” Ingstad says.

Eagle County, Ingstad says, is trying to work with state officials to give them some options for staying in Avon, which could include lowering the rent and reducing space.

“We can find a solution working with all the players,” Ingstad says. “This isn’t a normal place where the neighbor stays forever. In Vail, people come in for six months, and in most of the cases they need a new license.”

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at vwhitney@vaildaily.com.


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