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No registering cars in Davis

Commission votes to turn collection over to the state

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FARMINGTON — Beginning this summer, Davis County residents may have to drive to Rose Park or Ogden to register their vehicles.

County commissioners voted Tuesday to stop collecting motor-vehicle registration fees and turn that responsibility over to the state.

The decision angered several of the county's motor vehicle department employees who fear they may lose their jobs because of the switch and who say county residents and numerous local auto dealers will face 2 1/2-hour waits and poor customer service if they are forced to drive to the next-closest state agencies for registration.

"We have people from Weber and Salt Lake counties who come here because our lines are not as long," motor vehicle employee Randi King said. "If you don't think it's going to have an impact on the residents of this county, you're wrong."

Davis is the only county along the Wasatch Front that still collects motor vehicle fees, with Salt Lake, Utah and Weber opting to have the state collect such fees. Utah allows counties to choose whether to have those fees collected by the county itself or the Utah State Tax Commission.

Tuesday, the County Commission voted 2-1 in favor of the county ending its collection of fees on July 1, 2002. Commissioner Carol Page said she voted against ending the contract mainly because she is concerned there won't be motor vehicle service in Davis County. It is possible the state will decide to operate an office in Farmington.

County treasurer Mark Altom said the county needed to give the state only 90 days notice but instead chose to move the date back to July, in part to give motor vehicle employees more time to look for other jobs. If the state chooses to operate a motor vehicle office in Farmington, it would probably hire between 10 and 12 of the current employees, he said, and it's also possible some employees could be shifted to other county positions if they become available.

But that isn't good enough for King, who says even if some of the 14 employees in that department are given state jobs, there is no guarantee. Besides, she said, the job offers may not be in the Farmington office, and Davis employees would lose their seniority and take pay cuts.

"There are women in that office who are the sole providers for their families," she said. "It shouldn't just be about money, it should be about people, too."

The major reason for the decision was to avoid the $100,000-a-year subsidy that the county has been paying to keep the service at the county level.

In a tight budget year, Commissioner Dannie McConkie said $100,000 "means a lot to the Davis County budget." He also said he expects to see more residents completing registration online, lessening the need for in-person registration service.

Davis County has subsidized the program for several years to better serve taxpayers in the county, Altom said, but now county leaders believe residents would be better served by saving taxpayer money and ensuring the county budget is balanced.

E-MAIL: ehayes@desnews.com