COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Colorado lawmakers are trying to shorten long waits for service at state-run branches of the Department of Motor Vehicles, but doing so could cost taxpayers more.
Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill Thursday giving the DMV authority to increase fees for services if necessary to acquire manpower, technology or other resources.
The new law takes effect in 2016. It's unclear which DMV services might increase in cost, and by how much.
Lawmakers already have budgeted to hire at least 50 workers and modernize the DMV's computer systems. The hires offset layoffs in the department during the past decade.
State DMV offices like the one near the intersection of N. Union Blvd. and E. Van Buren St. in Colorado Springs are busy because of the range of services offered. County-operated DMV offices tend to be less busy but do not offer all state services, such as license renewals.
People visiting the state office in Colorado Springs said their wait times ranged between two and three hours. They responded to the new authority given to the state DMV.
"I wouldn't be opposed to it," said Tish Baker. "But (will) they just (raise) the fees and then they disapear somewhere? Or (will) they actually decrease the wait time?"
"I paid $36.50 to get my license renewed," said Jeremy Honor. "I'd probably pay up to $50 if it meant I could come in, do it and get out."
Baker and Honor said they were told by the DMV that registering for an appointment online will result in shorter wait times than a walk-in visit or registering by phone.
The state DMV has a goal of reducing its average wait time to 15 minutes. But that's four minutes above the time at El Paso County's four DMV offices, said Wayne Williams, the county's clerk and recorder.
"To the extent that the state is already receiving fees, one of the questions we'd have is if we can provide services at a very low wait time and at a minimal expense, why can't the state do it as well?" Williams said. "I don't think the (law) will affect our customer service. We're already at 11 minutes. It's hard to beat that."
Williams said the county intends to eventually provide the same services as the state DMV. That should help reduce times at the state DMV, he said, but the state hasn't been cooperative in making that happen.