Will driver’s license office return to county? | VailDaily.com

Will driver’s license office return to county?

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” For 16-year-old Megan Petrash, one of the most difficult things about getting her driver’s license wasn’t taking the written test or parallel parking ” it was getting down to the Department of Motor Vehicles office.

Petrash is one of many Eagle County residents who are tired of making the trek to Glenwood Springs or Frisco to the nearest DMV office.

“It’s quite a process up here,” said the Edwards resident. “We usually have to be taken out of school to go get the license, and the school usually isn’t too happy about it.”

But residents may soon be able to get their licenses without the 45-minute drive thanks to a joint effort between Eagle County and the state to open a local DMV office.

The biggest obstacle to a Vail valley DMV is lack of funding, said Roni White, operations director for the Colorado driver’s license program.

State budget cuts in 2002 and 2003 closed 25 DMV offices in Colorado, and Eagle County’s Avon office was among them. Three offices recently re-opened, but all were in metro areas on the Front Range.

“Eagle County was in the top 6 on the priority list, but not in the top 3,” White said.

Meanwhile, county officials andtate Rep. Dan Gibbs, who represents Eagle County, are trying to get the area moved up on the list and work out a partnership that would allow a small office to open.

“I’ve heard loud and clear the challenges in Eagle County of getting renewed licenses and such. You really have to take a day off to go take care of it,” Gibbs said.

The DMV would mostly be paid for by the county, although DMV services are usually the state’s responsibility. The county would have to provide a location for the office and pay for several full-time staff.

“Funding staff is the No. 1 barrier right now,” Gibbs said. “The state is not convinced they can provide any full-time staff right now.”

A recent state bill provided money for a few offices and 53 new employees, but none of that is coming to Eagle County, White said. However, the state will provide all the equipment and office costs for a new DMV, she said.

Eagle County Commissioner Sara Fisher said the county is looking at locations for the office and figuring out how much it would cost. One possible location is next to the county offices in Avon, where the DMV office used to be, she said.

One way to fund the project is to ask for help from the towns in a valleywide effort, Fisher said.

“It would be a benefit to everyone. The county is more than willing to do everything we can to make it happen,” she said.

A local DMV office is definitely needed, residents said, and getting car business done now is just a hassle.

“When I first came to the valley I had a nine-to-five job, Monday through Friday, and with that schedule it was impossible to get a state driver’s license,” said Avon resident Jim Berres.

He finally got it done because he happened to be traveling for work and stopped in Frisco on his way back from Denver, he said.

White said the state realizes the need, and discussion with the county is a positive step.

“I think it’s going to happen,” she said. “We just don’t know when.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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