DMV says new state system will mean longer waits

Staff Writer

Deputy registrars at Department of Motor Vehicles (DMVs) across the state, including Morrison County’s, now have a new software system. The bad news is it will put more work on the DMV and mean longer lines.

The new Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) will mean faster turnaround times for licenses and titles, streamlining the process and removing redundant steps at the state level, DMV Supervisor Denise Vogl said.

Now, information that had previously been split between the state, dealers and local DMVs has been combined and given to one group to deal with — the local DMVs, Vogl said.

In addition, getting access to the software system, troubleshooting difficult transactions and other tasks previously handled by the state have now has also been given to the local departments, whereas before, the state handled those issues, Vogl said.

Not only is the department having to fill out the paperwork with customers, Vogl said, staff also enters the information into a computer system that takes longer to input than the older system.

Commissioner Randy Winscher asked if the state was cutting its workers and passing the buck onto the local DMV.

It could be more of an issue that the state is having problems retaining employees to deal with the motor vehicle licensing. Going into the MNLARS system, it was down eight employees, Vogl said.

Dealers are also bringing in stacks of paperwork for the DMV to process. While this wasn’t a problem in the past, because employees could just work on that at their stations in between customers, now it’s more complicated, Vogl said.

“Now we’re basically having to shut down one of the girls up front to work on it (dealer paperwork),” Vogl said.

This is because the new software allows an employee to be in the system dealing with the dealers, or the one dealing with regular customers, not both, Vogl said.

County Auditor-Treasurer Deb Lowe said with one employee about to go on sick leave, the DMV will be short-staffed.

“So how do we pay for this,” Commissioner Jeffrey Jelinski said, talking about hiring more staff.

County Administrator Deb Gruber said the county might not want to jump forward and hire more staff.

Having the DMV’s deputy registrars at the county is nice, but it’s not a necessity, Gruber said.

In addition, currently the DMV is breaking even, and historically has made the county money. Next year, the DMV is expected to lose money, as fees set by the state do not keep up with the cost to meet expenses.

Customers will have to realize going to the DMV is not going to be something they can do quickly on their break. Employees will have to realize they’re going to have longer lines of people waiting to be served, Lowe said, which is something the employees don’t want.

Deputy registrars across the state are working on a time study to show the additional work caused by the software, which will be used by the Minnesota Deputy Registrars Association (MDRA) to lobby the Legislature to increase the fees during the 2018 session, an election year, Lowe said.

“Nothing will get done then,” Winscher said.

The county will continue to see how the situation goes and will present further recommendations to the Board in 2018.

Lowe said customers can give the state feedback about their experiences with the new system at www.house.leg.state.mn.us/DMV/Comment.