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County considers adding license plate office


By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Monday, July 17, 2017

Pitt County commissioners are scheduled to discuss the pros and cons of housing a license plate office in the tax administration building during today’s 9 a.m. meeting in the county office building.

Commissioner Charles Farley asked staff to investigate what procedures would be involved in opening a state Division of Motor Vehicles License Plate Agency Office, where people can purchase new license plates for their vehicle, renew and register existing vehicles and obtain title work.

Pitt County has two such facilities, one at Rivergate Shopping Center in Greenville’s medical district and one in Farmville.

Tax Administrator Cathy Booker and her staff prepared an information packet for the commissioners in late May and sent a second packet with the agency’s operating procedures last week.

There are 122 license plate agency offices in the state, according to Booker’s information. Ninety-nine are operated by private contractors, 13 in county offices and the remainder are divided between municipalities, chamber of commerce offices and two state-owned offices in Raleigh.

If the state wanted to open a third office it would be a bidding process, according to Booker’s May 25 memorandum. The result could be that a private vendor is awarded the contract instead of the county.

There also is the question of profitability, the memo said. The state would not want a third operation to interfere with the profitability of the existing offices.

The memo said staff also talked with Edgecombe County, which operates an agency office in its administrative building. Edgecombe County officials say the office is a break-even operation.

Pitt County’s tax collection office would need renovations to operate a facility, including $9,000 to install a required handicapped accessible window. Employees would have to be relocated and staff worries there would be parking issues when court is in session.

The office is located at 111 S. Washington St. near the courthouse in downtown Greenville. The county also would have to hire additional staff since license plate agency employees couldn’t work on county collections.

However, it was noted a county-operated facility could provide superior customer service, create a better environment for customers and would be more sensitive to issues involving tax valuation.

Also on today’s agenda:

• A request to establish a full-time housing coordinator position to assist with repair and buyout programs linked to Hurricane Matthew. Half the position’s salary and benefit package would be funded through grant programs.

• A request to reorganize permitting center staff to eliminate a coordinator’s position and change it to a technician’s position and change a half-time technician into a three-fourth position. Staff said permitting services’ workload is increasing and the changes will allow for faster response times and be an overall savings to the county.

• Staff will provide an update on the work taking place to bring sewer to the Candlewick subdivision.

• The quarterly employees service awards ceremony will be held.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570. Follow her on Twitter @GingerLGDR.