Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Rolling toward better days at DMV

| March 21, 2021 1:00 AM

Frustrated drivers, that sound you hear just might be the cavalry headed this way.

As The Press reported Friday, Kootenai County’s overwhelmed vehicle registration offices could soon be getting help from the Idaho Department of Transportation.

A key reason so many people are unable to quickly tend to their registration needs has to do primarily with complications from COVID-19 and a new hardware and software system. The state is already helping other large counties handle big backlogs; Kootenai could join the club within a week.

ITD’s rescue still isn't the ideal long-term solution. As we’ve editorialized before, Idaho should join many other states in allowing car dealers to do vehicle registration at the time of purchase. Under Gov. Brad Little’s leadership, Idaho has shed many unnecessary regulations, yet still we haven't managed to simplify our vehicle registration process. Even with its steady population growth, Idaho should be able to accommodate its customers much more readily.

As Kootenai County Assessor Bela Kovacs told reporter Madison Hardy, his department — which is part of the vehicle registration team — should continue its role in the public service solution. Suggestions that all DMV functions could eventually be centralized in Boise seems to send chills down Kovacs' spine — and maybe they should.

Especially in an area like Kootenai County, with legions of senior citizens and more moving in every day, it's important to have local offices, local phone numbers and local friendly faces to assist residents. The global movement toward conducting all business online should not become the only option, particularly when it comes to functions of local government.

Still, for the many county residents who have waited a seeming eternity for their car tags, the option of being able to go online, order and pay for the things and then receive them in short order is a big step in the right direction.

For everyone else, Kovacs and Co. are eager to serve.