Driver’s license office drastically reducing visits

Published 10:29 pm Sunday, December 22, 2019

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Office will only be open two months of the year in Columbus

COLUMBUS—Polk County’s driver’s license office will not be available until April 2020. 

Polk County officials were alerted recently that the mobile unit that comes to the Polk County Tag and Tax Office on the first three Thursdays of the month will now only be coming for the first three Thursdays in the months of April and October in 2020. 

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Polk County officials were sent an email from Brenda K. Anding, Program Coordinator II with the Division of Motor Driver Services/North Carolina Department of Transportation. 

Anding said the state is looking into the utilization of mobile assets across the state and how to decrease the overall customer wait times. 

“As I am researching the issuing numbers from the past Columbus mobile stop visits, some of our concerns involve the low customer numbers,” Anding said. “The current estimated average of issuing numbers per visit, per footlocker, is 18. With such a low number of customers receiving our licensing services, we need to investigate other possible options to improve this number. One such option includes using the Driver License Offices within the surrounding areas, which currently include two such locations within 27 miles of Columbus.” 

Although the decision does not seem final, with Polk County Manager Marche Pittman already reaching out to the state with concerns, the 2020 schedule is proposed to be the units coming to Columbus on April 9, 16 and 23 and again on Oct.  8, 15 and 22.

“The goal for  each mobile unit as it pertains to licensing customers is 80 per 8-hour stop, or 40 customers serviced per footlocker,” Anding said. “That number is based on an 8-hour mobile stop visit and a location that provides excellent 4G signal strength. We want to ensure that we can continue to provide this service and support to your town without putting extra constraints on our examiners or the citizens of your great town.”

Pittman reached out to the state this week saying he does not believe their figures are correct, as the office is always busy. 

“I must say that I am very disappointed to hear that limiting visits for our Drivers License Mobile Site is even being considered,” Pittman said to Anding. “I have personally been to our crowded office a couple of different times and my staff tells that it is always full of people.” 

Pittman said this is a huge impact to the local community and Polk County’s population is 35 percent over the age of 65, with those residents having a hard time driving a long distance to sit in a busy waiting area of a regional office. 

“Further, the regional offices can barely handle the traffic they have now, much less adding the traffic from our mobile unit office to that total,” Pittman said. 

Pittman also said he is interested in the 8 hours of contact stated since he has been told the team opens at 9 a.m., closes for lunch and stops certain activities around 3 p.m. in order to leave around 4 p.m. 

“That only gives us approximately five contact hours in Polk County,” Pittman said. “Are you fairly assessing the number of contacts based on the actual hours of staffing?” 

The last day of the mobile unit for this year was Thursday. The Polk County Board of Commissioners have not yet addressed the change. 

The tax office moved from the Womack building a few years ago and added a DMV office for tags as well as the state sending the mobile unit three Thursdays a month for drivers licenses. 

In the upcoming months, Polk residents can go to Forest City or Hendersonville or other agencies for all drivers license and identification needs. 

Polk County’s tag and tax office is still operating as usual.