NORWALK, Conn. Juan Hernandez of Bridgeport rushed to the Department of Motor Vehicles in Norwalk at 5:30 p.m. Thursday to help his sister renew her car registration. They still had plenty of time.
But they would have found the department's doors closing if they had waited until next Thursday.
Starting today, cuts to services as a result of budget cuts will shorten the current 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday hours to 9:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
"That sucks because I would be kicked out right now," said Hernandez. And it would have cost additional money in fees, too, if the registration had been renewed late.
Many others may have known about the coming changes, as the department, at 540 Main Ave, was still mobbed with customers at 5:30 p.m. Cars were circling the lot as drivers looked for places to park.
The waiting line for information took up the entire queue at 6 p.m., with most of the seats in the registration waiting area taken.
Cuts in services and hours will start impacting you today. Those seeking new driver's licenses will be most impacted, because they will have to drive or be driven farther to get to a DMV office for both written and road tests and to obtain licenses, officials said.
However, hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays will be expanded slightly to 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. from the current 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Saturday schedule of 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. will remain the same. Offices will still be closed Sundays and Mondays.
The changes resulting from budget cuts independent of the wage and benefit concessions being considered by state unions will require customers to drive longer distances for certain services.
The department changed hours at its 10 full-service branch offices and shifted some services such as road tests for driver's licenses to four centralized locations as part of "streamlining, cost-cutting and efficiency efforts."
Those four regionalized branches will now be in Bridgeport, Waterbury, Wethersfield and Willimantic, with the Hamden office added in the next few months, said DMV Commissioner Melody Currey.
Bill Seymour, the department's communications director, said some people will have to travel farther for certain licensing and registration issues, but "the added time driving will be offset by shorter wait times resulting from increased staffing at the expanded service centers.
"By just cutting back Thursday night, we are saving $50,000, and that's a big chunk of money during challenging economic times that require shared sacrifice from regular households to governmental agencies," Seymour said.
The changes take effect regardless of whether state employees ratify the proposed union concession agreement, he said. However, if the union proposal is approved, the scheduled closings later this month of some satellite offices and license renewal centers in Derby, Milford and Middletown will be "re-evaluated," he said.
How will changes in hours and services at the Department of Motor Vehicles impact you? Let us know in a comment below.
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