Second Columbia DMV office in the works

Columbia has only the sixth largest population in the state, but it consistently has one of the busiest DMV license offices in the whole state.
Cars sit outside the Columbia License Office on Sept. 8, 2015. The Missouri Department of Revenue hopes to give Columbia another DMV location to improve the experience at both locations.

Sad, crowded and time-consuming were just some of the ways MU freshmen and Columbia residents Gabriel Gassmann and Brett Stover described the Columbia License Office located on Vandiver Drive and Providence Road. Their descriptions of the Columbia DMV touch on the reasons the Missouri Department of Revenue is trying to open a second location.

It’s the Department of Revenue’s third attempt to give Columbia another DMV, which is one of the busiest in the state, according to data from the state agency. Previous attempts were marred by the quality of bids. The department has been looking for bids since January to try and reduce the busy lines at the Columbia DMV.

When the Columbia DMV was first put up for bids in 2009, the Department of Revenue had two bids to choose from. Now this isn’t the case, as they struggle to find acceptable bids.

However despite a lack of bids, Michelle Gleba, director of Communications for the Department of Revenue, cites the busyness of the Columbia DMV as a reason for the department to continue their efforts.

“The existing Columbia license office is one of the busiest offices in the state in terms of licenses and processing fees,” Gleba said in an Aug. 28 Columbia Tribune article. “A second office will bring more convenience to the residents of Columbia and Boone County.”

In fiscal year 2015, the Columbia DMV carried out 217,477 total transactions resulting in $733,296 of total transaction fees, according to their records. They had 10,512 more total transactions and made $66,364 more in total transaction fees than the Harvester license office, the next highest functioning office.

The Columbia DMV has consistently performed this way with more than 211,000 transactions generating $710,928 in agent processing fees in the fiscal year 2014. Despite only being the sixth largest city in the state of Missouri, the Columbia DMV has continuously been one of the top performing DMVs in the state for the past 10 fiscal years.

Despite the Columbia DMV’s operational success, the experience is not as enjoyable for the customers who go to visit. Gassmann said he feels everyone goes to the DMV expecting to have a bad experience because of the long wait times.

“Definitely things could be more streamlined,” Gassmann said. “I think I went at a time that was supposed to be not that busy, specifically because we didn’t want to have to wait in line for a ridiculously long time, and we still ended up waiting for a really long time.”

Students have some ideas of their own as to where the second DMV office should go in Columbia. Stover suggested the new location should be in south Columbia to help cut down on driving times.

“If they put another DMV out on South Providence in southern Columbia, then it would help for a lot of those people who have to drive like 20 or 25 minutes to get to the DMV, and it would also cut the crowds probably in half,” Stover said.

Currently, the location for the proposed DMV is unknown, as the requirements for its location have changed from bid to bid, according to an Aug. 28 Columbia Tribune article. Originally in the first bid proposal, the new DMV was required to be within city limits and only a mile from the current DMV office in Columbia. In the second bid proposal, the distance was increased to two miles.

The Columbia DMV is operated by Koester & Koester, LLC. The contractor has independently operated the Columbia location since 2014 when they took over operations from Columbia Licensing Services LLC. In addition to the Columbia office, Koester & Koester operates seven more license offices throughout Missouri.

Koester & Koester were not available for comment.

The Department of Revenue’s struggle to find a contractor for the proposed second Columbia DMV office might be a result of Gov. Jay Nixon’s reformed system of awarding state license offices through a bid process that was first implemented in 2009 for all 178 license offices.

The Department of Revenue will be evaluating bids for the second Columbia DMV office based on a variety of criteria in areas such as the “expertise of the personnel proposed,” and the “methods proposed for performing the services,” according to Department of Revenue news release.

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