Written by Larry Limpf
February 20, 2009
The Ottawa County commissioners are asking for a two-year delay to the planned closing of a Bureau of Motor Vehicle office in Oak Harbor and would like to see a request by the county clerk of courts to open a title office at the Oak Harbor site be granted.
The commissioners are challenging the projected cost savings the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles claims it will realize by closing the office and are asking the bureau’s parent department, the Ohio Department of Public Safety, to conduct an analysis that weighs the cost savings for the state with the increased cost to customers and the economic impact on area communities.
The state is planning to close the office in June
In a Feb. 5 letter to Henry Guzman, director of the ODPS, the commissioners ask the state to consider the local effects of closing the license agency at 106 N. Locust Street in Oak Harbor.
The commissioners question figures and demographic data they received during a meeting with John Hykes, BMV Administrator, to discuss the closing.
“…Hykes indicated that the number of transactions have been declining for a number of years at the Oak Harbor site,” the letter says. “While factually correct it is interesting to note that the percentage of decline from 2004 thru 2008 at the Oak Harbor site was virtually the same as that of the Port Clinton site. This is quite remarkable given the past 2 years of construction activity (2007 and 2008) that the Oak Harbor site has had to endure. We believe that any decline seen at this site is no different than others. The Oak Harbor site, however, has the ability to increase if the request from the Ottawa County Clerk of Courts to open a title agency at that location was approved, making it a one-stop shop.”
The commissioners also question whether a high level of service can be maintained at the Port Clinton and Fremont agencies once the Oak Harbor site is closed.
“It’s interesting to note that the Oak Harbor site draws a significant amount of customers from both of those registrars purely because of the exceptional customer service received at the Oak Harbor site,” the letter says. “More than half of the customers who are utilizing the Oak Harbor site are farther west of Oak Harbor, which makes the mileage more in the range of 20 to 30 miles to the Port Clinton and Fremont registrars with round trip mileage close to 40 to 60 miles. We believe this is an unfair burden especially when you consider that approximately 20 percent of the population is senior citizens.”
The state projects a savings of about $129,876 for each agency office closed. The commissioners contend a more detailed analysis needs to be done – one that reflects the costs of moving equipment to other agencies as well as fixed costs the state will continue to incur and the cost to customers in the future.
“The Oak Harbor site has served the communities well for years as an agent for OBMV, Department of Watercraft for watercraft licenses, and the Ottawa County Dog Warden for the sale of dog licenses,” the letter says, noting the office is an employer and generates business for the village.
Resolutions of support for keeping the office open have been passed by village councils in Oak Harbor and Genoa.