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Commission Evicts Driver Licensing Office

July 10, 2012, 5:54 PM by Brady Mallory

Commission Evicts Driver Licensing Office
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

The place you go to get your license to drive got its walking papers.  Thousands of people go to a 900 square-foot room to get or renew their driver's license.  Sometimes there are only a couple of workers, causing long lines for customers.

"I'm very frustrated," Tasha Rouse said.

For the last two days, Rouse has found in order to drive, you have to park it for a while.

"They told us it'd be a two hour wait, if we're lucky," Rouse said.

Rouse was with her husband while he waited to get his driver's license renewed.  This is their second try in two days; they were at the office on Monday, but had to leave after the wait was too long.  Missing work is costing the couple more than just time.

"We, like so many American people, are struggling to pay our bills," Rouse said.  "I'd say we are living paycheck to paycheck, but we're not.  We have to not pay bills to pay other bills and buy groceries."

There was plenty of discussion at the Commission meeting.  County Treasurer Pam Nelson said her office had similar waiting problems until more people were staffed.  However, she said the small licensing office does not have a lot of room to grow.

"They don't have much room to add anybody and they need two or three more people at least to handle the crowd they have," Nelson said.

Commissioners had talked about moving the office one floor below where it is now, but were worried about the same noise and space issues on the first floor.

"When you're seated at that side of the bench, you're here to serve the people.  The people aren't serving you," Former County Commission Chairman Robert Kolbe said.

Kolbe said evicting the office from an easy-to-find location will hurt taxpayers.  According to a Commissioner Jeff Barth, as more people wait in the hallway, it becomes noisier and more disruptive. Given that the office is just a few steps away from the Commission's meeting room makes Rouse think moving it is more about commissioners wanting to silence hallway noise. 

"It's not about our convenience.  It's not about helping the average citizen anymore," Rouse said.

The lease is up September 30, but if officials with the licensing office cannot find a new place, they could get multiple extensions on a month-by-month basis.  Right now, a new site hasn't been determined.

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