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Williams MVD will close Feb. 12

PHOENIX - Eleven offices of the Arizona Department of Transportation's Motor Vehicle Division will close on Feb. 12 as part of an agency-wide effort to balance a $100 million budget deficit tied to the state's fiscal crisis.

MVD offices to close include: Ajo, Benson, Bisbee, Central Phoenix (28th Street location), Clifton, East Mesa, Fredonia, Kearny, Superior, Willcox and Williams. The offices in Ajo, Clifton, Fredonia and Superior are currently open only part-time. In all, MVD customer service offices will be reduced from 61 offices to 50 offices.

Through a partnership with the city of St. Johns, the MVD customer service office in St. Johns will be open part-time starting Feb. 16 to serve customers on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The office was initially proposed to close.

ADOT's budget-management plan 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. These moves are necessary to balance a budget struck hard by $500 million in transfers away from transportation, and significant declines in vehicle license and gas tax revenue.

Closure of the 11 identified offices will allow staff to be consolidated into the remaining offices, providing more people to serve customers without further staff layoffs. MVD customer service staffing has been reduced by one-third due to vacant positions and layoffs. Compared to the previous year, average office visit times statewide have increased two minutes due to staffing reductions, a trend expected to continue.

On average, these 11 offices combined provide services to about 28,000 customers per month, ranging from 11,300 for the Central Phoenix location to 170 in Fredonia. Locations identified for closure were evaluated based on the number of customers served, a review of the facilities, and the availability of alternative service locations including other MVD or third-party offices.

Overall, MVD meets the needs of 4 million customers annually. Residents can conduct a range of online transactions through www.ServiceArizona.com or by visiting one of more than 140 third-party locations statewide. A complete listing, with addresses and alternative or third-party office locations, is available at www.azmvdservices.com or www.azdot.gov/budgetroadmap.

ADOT's budget roadmap, announced in October, is a necessary effort to reduce costs based on current funding levels. Those reductions, however, will change the availability of services for customers and drivers. Future reductions in transportation funds, if enacted, will require further cuts in both operations and personnel.

ADOT continues to explore public-private partnerships and alternative funding sources to deliver services, like federal money for construction projects or grants for specialized services, while reducing expenses and retaining critical staff. However, laws restrict how federal funds can be used and some operations, like MVD customer services and highway maintenance, are not eligible for federal funding.

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