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Why some Missouri Drivers License Offices are Struggling

SPRINGFIELD -- Those offices don't get a dollar of state funding, and drivers might soon be the ones to help keep the doors open.

According to Ryan Williams, the Legislative Chairman for the Missouri Association of License Offices, says there are approximately 175 license offices in Missouri, and many of them are struggling to keep the doors open.

Those offices are not operated by the state, therefore get no state funding. They are privately owned, and they rely on fees from their transactions to keep the lights on. 

Williams says the fees have stayed the same for 20 years. 

"License offices haven't had an increase in their fee that is set by the legislature since 1999," Willaims says. 

Since that time, Missouri drivers have had it pretty good when it comes to many fees at the license office. 

1-year license renewals are $3.50, titling fees are $2.50, and when a notarization is required, those are free.

Williams says it just isn't enough to sustain some offices in today's world. 

"Going back to 1999 when that fee was put in place, rent has doubled in many cases, minumum wage is nearly half of what it is now," says Williams.

Since license offices get no state funding, those small fees they gather are stretched thin.

"100% of our income in derived from the fees. It's just rendered many -- if not the majority -- of offices either at a break even point, or there are many offices running in the red right now," Williams explains.  

He uses the office in Sarcoxie, Missouri as an example. 

They grossed just $40,000 last year. That makes it very tough to pay employees, building rent, and other operational costs. Soon, drivers may be relied on to keep these places in business.

Senate Bill 114 is a piece of legislation that would bump those fees up to help them stay open. 

The increases in fees would go as follows: 

  • 1-year tag renewals: From $3.50 to $6
  • 2-year tag renewals: From $7 to $12
  • Title fees: From $2.50 to $6
  • Notarizations: From free to $2

Williams believes these small increases would be enough to keep many offices sustained for the next few years. 

Williams says another thing that has hurt them is the state allowing online renewals for tags.

He says that takes away money from the local offices and gives it to the Missouri Department of Revenue. He says those proposed increases would help offset some the money lost in local offices too. 


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