BAKER —By May 4, drivers will pay higher fees but have shorter wait times when getting driver’s licenses and other Department of Motor Vehicles services in Baker.
The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize Mayor Harold Rideau to sign a contract with Express OMV, LLC to privatize the DMV office in the city.
The company already runs a DMV office at Siegen Lane and Perkins Road in Baton Rouge and another on Range Avenue in Denham Springs.
Express OMV will offer all of the services the state office provided, as well as a notary service, which the state did not offer.
By state law, private DMV offices can charge up to $18 in convenience fees per transaction. The company will charge the maximum fee only on a few services that take extensive time and work, including title transactions, Express OMV representative Brooke Barnett told the council. Driver’s license renewals will cost $4 more than at the state-run DMV office.
Three dollars of each transaction fee will go to the city, according to the terms of the contract.
The contract guarantees that the city will receive at least $79,000 per year from the company, the same amount it made last year from the state-run facility. Rideau said he expects the city ultimately to make more with the private company than it did from the state-run DMV.
“Word is going to get out that you can get your license quicker in Baker. People are willing to pay for convenience,” he said.
The Express OMV office in Baton Rouge serves 400 customers per day and the average wait time is 12 minutes, Barnett said.
The city of Baker owns the DMV building at 2250 Main St. The building needs to be renovated before Express OMV can move in, Rideau said.
Barnett estimates the renovation will cost between $30,000 and $60,000. The money will come from revenue generated previously by the state-run facility. By state law, those funds can only be used for maintenance of the city building. In contrast, any money the city makes through the contract with the private company can be used however the city chooses, Barnett said.
The city will continue to own the building, and the voter registration and rehabilitation counseling offices housed there will remain, Rideau said.
The state is required to have one state-run DMV office in each parish, and state officials are encouraging local municipalities to privatize their operations, Rideau said.
“We met with the state folks and they support this. This is what they want us to do,” he said.
In other business, the council voted unanimously to ban smoking on all property owned by the city, including parks and outdoor areas.
Civic Club owner Hazel Mitchell also announced that a memorial will be held Saturday at 2 p.m. at the club for teenagers Marcell Franklin, Kendal Dorsey, and Diontrey Claiborne, who were killed in a shooting there in March 2014.