- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—Tweet

WATERTOWN — The Jefferson County clerk’s office is warning customers of potentially misleading vehicle registration renewal notices from the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

The DMV is sending registration renewal notices informing customers that registration may be renewed only online or by mail.

County Clerk Gizelle M. Meeks said these notices are false and misleading, noting that registration still can be renewed in person at a local DMV office. When customers renew registration online or by mail, transaction fee revenue goes to the state instead of to the counties.

“By leading people to believe they cannot use their local DMV office for renewals, the state is able keep all of the money for those transactions, which are the bread and butter of local offices,” Ms. Meeks said.

Local DMV offices keep 12.7 percent of the revenue made from transactions. Ms. Meeks said the DMV office in Watertown has lost more than $300,000 in revenue in 2013 and 2014. She said the loss is expected to increase this year.

Because transaction revenue is down at local DMV offices, Ms. Meeks said, the county will have to subsidize offices through local tax dollars or even close them.

“The last thing I want to do is close any DMV office,” Ms. Meeks said. “I don’t know why the state would use such deceptive practices to drive business away from the local office when these offices are needed by the local residents. The best thing we can do is educate people to use their local DMV office, keep their money here and the doors open.”

Ms. Meeks also said renewing registration online is not as efficient as renewing in person. Sometimes customers do not receive stickers in the mail, whereas they could have been picked up at a local office. Also, Ms. Meeks said, some DMV transactions that must be handled in person do not generate the same revenue as renewals.

The Watertown DMV office does not hold extended office hours in July or August, but from September to June, Ms. Meeks said, the office will be open until 6:45 p.m. every Thursday. Summer office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Watertown DMV office has a new drop box for registration renewals where they will be processed the same day they are dropped off. Ms. Meeks said the turnaround time for the drop box is much faster than receiving renewed registration from the state by mail.

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