By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
The state Motor Vehicle Division is looking for a new place to park in eastern New Mexico.
Rick Homans, secretary of Taxation and Revenue, announced Friday the state will be building a new Motor Vehicle Division office in Clovis.
He also hinted a new facility may be in the works for Portales.
The new Clovis office, expected to cost more than $500,000, should be completed by the second-half of 2010, he said.
Homans and MVD Director Michael Sandoval made the announcement during a meeting with Mayor Gayla Brumfield, City Manager Joe Thomas and Community Development Director Claire Burroughes.
Homans said after touring several offices throughout the state, he found Clovis to be, “sorely in need of improvement.”
It was something the department had wanted to do for more than a year, he said. But a letter from Brumfield asking them to take a look at improving the facility helped spur more immediate action, he said.
“When you walk into a place that’s run down and things don’t work right, you don’t project a customer-friendly environment,” he said.
“This is a high priority project that needs to get done…I think when it’s all done, we’ll be very proud of it.”
The new facility will be located adjacent to the existing one — building four in the Bruce King Complex — and plans are to more than double the size — jumping from 1,800 to 4,000 square feet, he said.
Construction bid documents are expected to be available in about eight weeks, Homans said.
The Property Control Division of the General Services Department will manage the project.
Describing the new facility as “state of the art,” Homans said there will be nine workstations to provide for expansion.
There are currently six employees at the Clovis MVD out of eight budgeted positions, he said.
Brumfield thanked Homans, explaining about three months ago she lost her driver’s license and when she went to the MVD for a replacement was surprised at how understaffed and outdated it was.
“I kind of felt bad for them… I said (to the employee), ‘you guys need some more help or something’,” she recalled, to which she said the clerk replied, “We need a new building.”
“I’ve never had such a fast response,” Brumfield said. “This is going to be good for our community and good for Cannon Air Force Base. This is exciting, this is really exciting.”
Burroughes said the timing couldn’t be better with expansion at Cannon.
The base is expected to more than double from about 2,000 personnel to more than 5,000 and is projecting to spend an estimated $260 million on new construction projects.
“It’s going to be huge,” she said.
Homans acknowledged problems in the department. He said the improvement for Clovis is just one of many initiatives across the state.
“The root cause is that we have a terrible back end system that causes mistakes and loses things,” he said.
He said the MVD is revamping the way it operates. Among new plans: Efforts to add more Internet service options, a new computer system, appointment options and private test contractors and privately operated, contract facilities to ease congestion.
Homans said the Portales MVD office will also be facing changes in the near future. With the lease up on the building housing the office, he said there will be considerations of relocation and expansion.