MALDEN, MO (KFVS) - Some Department of Motor Vehicle offices in the rural parts of the Heartland are on the brink of closing and their private owners are pushing for a new solution that could provide much-needed funding.
Missouri lawmakers in the state House gave initial approval to House Bill 584 on Monday, April 8. The proposal would boost ‘agent fees’ by $2.50 or $5 depending on the transaction at license office.
Phillip Shelton, a retiree from Malden Missouri, said he used to have 20 work vehicles at his business in town, and knows how essential it is to have a license office close.
“I would be disappointed if this one here moved out, I really would because to me it’d be a great inconvenience for the people in our area,” he said.
Shelton thinks its a reasonable trade off to pay little extra at the DMV if it means his local office gets to stay open.
“When you are being taxed anyway and you have to go another 30 miles to pay your tax that is not good news," Shelton said. "When you get to figuring your gasoline and your time, I mean even if they charge $10 more it would be well worth it.”
Jill McDonald manages the Malden DMV, and said the business barely stays afloat with their current funding model and does not turn a profit..
“The sales tax when people pay it none of that goes to us. That all goes to the department of revenue," McDonald said. “Out of every transaction everybody does we get a small agent fee and it’s not a sliding scale, it is fixed.”
McDonald said that is their only funding source and they use every cent for paying rent, staff salaries and out of pocket costs.
“It’s very limiting. We have to pay for paper, office supplies, toner for our printer," McDonald said. "We had to pay for our computer here recently because one of our computers broke and it is still not up and running.”
McDonald said the DMV is a big reason people come to Malden and thinks their presence helps the local economy.
“We want to build the town up, not be another business that goes away," McDonald said. "It would make a world of difference just that small increase. Having this here is important because we are something everyone needs.”
The last time Missouri increased license office fees was in 1999.
McDonald has been calling state lawmakers to push this proposal through and is encouraging other DMV owners to do the same.