Gallatin County Auditor Jennifer Blossom says she’s frustrated with how long people have to wait in line at the Motor Vehicle Department, and sees areas where the office can become more efficient.
Which is one of the reasons why Blossom, a Democrat, is running for the county treasurer’s office, which is responsible for the department.
In 2015, Blossom said Gallatin County Commissioners approved a lump sum of money and pleaded with the treasurer to make changes and alleviate long waits at motor vehicle. Since then, she said she doesn’t think anything has changed the department.
“You’ve still got people waiting in line,” she said.
County Treasurer Kim Buchanan said in 2015 commissioners gave her department $150,000 for construction purposes to remodel the MVD office. Buchanan, a Republican, said not all of that money was used, and was given back to the county once alterations in the office were made.
“I used what I needed to, and gave it back because I didn’t feel like I could use it for anything else other than the construction in the office,” Buchanan said.
Blossom also criticized the opening of a second MVD office in Belgrade. She pulled out a small yellow sheet of paper announcing the second office opening, and pointed at the hours of operation, Monday through Friday from 9-12 p.m. and 1-4:30 p.m. Blossom said those hours aren’t helpful to people who work during the day.
The office was recently opened in December because of the high volume of customers at the Bozeman location. The issue with that, Blossom said, was that the county did not backfill staff at the Bozeman office.
“We took two people to Belgrade, and now we’re two short here,” she said.
Buchanan has said she wanted to get the second site running smoothly, and allow staff to get into a routine before hiring more people. For the coming fiscal year, starting in July, she said she would be coming to the commissioners to request three more employees – two for the Belgrade site, and one for Bozeman.
When the staff at the Bozeman site gets busy, Buchanan said she or the MVD supervisor would step in and try to help alleviate the line. She said sometimes she’s short on staff, and that she’s open to any ideas on how to better manage the office.
Buchanan has been with the treasurer’s office for 11 years now, and Blossom said she recognized that experience plays into the different roles the treasurer’s office is responsible for. But people also find a “comfort zone” when they’re in one office for so long, she said.
“I agree that experience is huge, but, at the same time, if you have that experience, but you’re not willing to look at the issue – I don’t know what good you’re doing,” Blossom said.