- Associated Press - Thursday, June 5, 2014

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - Part of an effort to try to reduce wait times at Colorado department of motor vehicle offices was signed into law Thursday, but it might mean drivers pay more eventually.

The initiative to overhaul operations at the department was outlined by Gov. John Hickenlooper in his annual State of the State address in January. The goal is to reach an average wait time of 15 minutes, but no timeline for that has been set.

Lawmakers have budgeted for more than 50 additional workers at the department, and allocated funding to modernize its computer system. The department went through staffing cuts during recessions in the last decade, and the legislation is meant to boost the workforce.

The measure Hickenlooper signed Thursday afternoon gives the DMV the authority to raise fees beginning in 2016 to support increased staffing. Lawmakers say the idea is to give customers a chance to see improved results before possible fee increases.

“DMV has constantly been behind. It hasn’t had the funding that it deserved. It hasn’t had the funding given it is a core function of government,” said Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, one of the bill sponsors.

The bill also consolidates several cash funds within the department.

Before the signing ceremony at a Lakewood DMV, Hickenlooper noted all the services that the offices provide, such as granting driver’s licenses and administering vehicle registrations.

“It is often a place where there is just so much going on that it doesn’t happen efficiently,” he said.

Lawmakers who sponsored the bill said changes to motor vehicles department operations were overdue.

“We really are modernizing the division of motor vehicles and improving customer service,” said Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, a bill sponsor.

Barbara Brohl, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, which oversees the DMV, said wait times are expected to be reduced within the next year, but said the 15-minute average wait time won’t be reached until a full overhaul of operations is complete. She did not give a timetable.

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