Sat, Jan. 18

Cottonwood MVD office to remain open

COTTONWOOD - A dozen ADOT Motor Vehicle Offices have been targeted for closure to help the road department balance its need to cut $100 million from its budget. Fortunately, the Cottonwood office will remain open, as will the Prescott MVD office though some staff have been cut from those locations.

In all, there are currently 61 MVD offices in Arizona. Those offices expected to close serve the smallest number of customers each day. They include: Ajo, Benson, Bisbee, Central Phoenix on 28th Street location, Clifton, East Mesa, Fredonia, Kearny, St. Johns, Superior, Willcox and Williams. The offices in Ajo, Clifton, Fredonia and Superior are currently open part-time.

ADOT Spokesman Bill Pederson says the agency's budget roadmap for the 2010 fiscal year includes closure of the MVD offices, temporary suspension of operations at 13 highway rest areas, layoffs affecting 115 employees, and reductions to roadway maintenance and construction efforts. The moves are needed to balance a budget struck hard by $500 million in transfers away from transportation, and significant declines in vehicle license and gas tax revenue.

And the agency already has cut 10 percent of its workforce, or about 450 employees, since a hiring freeze went into effect in February 2008.

ADOT notified another 90 employees last week that they would be laid off Dec. 1, mostly Division of Motor Vehicles employees. Those layoffs include four customer service employees at the Division of Motor Vehicles offices in Prescott and Cottonwood.

MVD staff already is down by about one-third because of unfilled vacancies and layoffs.

Before the offices can be closed, a United States Department of Justice review is required to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 since the offices provide voter registration services.

Locations identified for closure were evaluated based on the number of customers served, review of the facilities, and the availability of alternative service locations including other MVD or third-party offices. In some cases, offices are in poor repair or have costly ongoing maintenance issues that ADOT simply does not have sufficient funding to address.

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