OPINION

THE ROWAN REPORT: DMV move lacked transparency

Del. Ruth Rowan
Del. Ruth Rowan

On March 2, 2021, an informal conference was held in regard to the Romney DMV being moved to Keyser.  In attendance at that meeting were:  Secretary of the Department of Transportation Byrd White; DMV Commissioner Everett Frazier; Deputy Commissioner Linda Ellis; DMV General Council Adam Holley; Chairman of House Finance Eric Householder and Vice Chairman of House Finance Vernon Criss. 

      A major concern was the secret manner in which this transition occurred. Paperwork was signed Dec. 8, 2020.  I learned of the move Dec. 9, 2020.  Our senators, Senator Charles Trump and Senate President Craig Blair, were not informed of the move either.

The response back from their panel was that they were following procedures. When asked about the county commissioners not being informed, they responded that they didn’t have to tell them.

      In regard to the deaf population—students at the West Virginia School for the Deaf would practice their driving skills at the Romney DMV course. Some of these students are residential students and depend on the drivers ed car at the school. I had asked on Feb. 15 if any consideration had been made for the deaf population. They couldn’t answer. Their reply on March 2 was that they had called the school and that there had not been an answer, so they left a message. The board of education for WVSDB is located in Building 6 at the Capitol Complex. The Department of Transportation is located in Building 5. The two buildings are connected by Building 7.  An easy walk.

      Of concern also was access for the blind to get their necessary ID cards. Their response was that it would only be necessary every 15 years and Keyser is in close proximity to Romney.  Not sure what close proximity would be for the blind.

      Unofficial information that was provided projected that the cost per square foot at Romney DMV was $110 per square foot versus $220 per square foot in Keyser. Their response was: “No, the figures are incorrect.”  They did not offer the correct figures but instead supplied a chart for 2020 showing revenues and expenses for DMVs across the state. 

What this chart did provide was a comparison of the surrounding DMVs. The DMV in Franklin’s revenue for 2020 was $2,779,806.77. The DMV in Moorefield’s revenue for 2020 was $2,055,518.17. The DMV in Romney’s revenue for 2020 was $3,341,504.36. You do the math!

      In a letter dated Feb. 24, I had asked why Romney moved and not Franklin or Moorefield. There response in that letter was, “Keyser was chosen as the location because it is closer to a larger concentration of the population.”  According to their letter dated April 19, “The population of Franklin was estimated to be 622 by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2019.”

      With all this information, why would you move the DMV in Romney instead of moving the ones in Franklin or Moorefield?  Their answer,  “Their lease was up.”  When I asked when the leases were up in the other two DMVs, none of the experts there had any idea.

       To my statement, “There appears to be a total lack of transparency in the relocation,” their response was, “The DMV followed state law and the protocol of the Real Estate Division.”  Not sure what that protocol might be but feel that it lacks in transparency and accountability.