Four license offices in Barry and Lawrence counties that contract with the Missouri Department of Revenue are currently up for bid. Bid proposals are being accepted for offices in Monett, Cassville, Aurora and Mt. Vernon.
Earlier this year, Gov. Jay Nixon established a competitive bidding process for all of Missouri's local motor vehicle license offices. Currently, over half of the state's offices are in some stage of competitive bidding.
"While some of the offices have been run by local chambers of commerce and other civic groups, the vast majority were given away to political supporters of past governors," said Nixon."The competition for the right to run an office will result in more efficient operations and better customer service."
According to Karen King Mitchell, director of the Department of Revenue, bidders will be evaluated based on their operational proposals.
"Customer service, hours of operation, the accessibility and security of the office location, the past business or license office experience of the office staff and a possible return of some revenues to the state are just some of the standards the department will evaluate," Mitchell said.
The bid process is open for five weeks.
The Monett license office, located at 200 E. Broadway, was one of six put up for bid this week. The Monett Chamber of Commerce has run the office for around 30 years. Bids will be accepted until June 23.
According to figures released by the Department of Revenue, the volume of business in Monett added up to 37,431 transactions during fiscal year 2008, generating an estimated $109,742 in processing fees.
"We feel pretty good about our chances to get the bid," said Chamber Executive Director Suzy McElmurry. "We feel we do a very good job."
McElmurry said the Monett office has one of the best records in the state for accuracy.
"Our staff is very knowledgeable," said McElmurry. "D.C. Wright, the license office manager, is one of the most knowledgible agents in the area."
One of the points of consideration made in the bids, McElmurry said, is the office facility. The Chamber's office was designed to run a license office.
"It's convenient for clerks and patrons," said McElmurry. "It has restrooms and a seating area for customers, making it comfortable and pleasant for people to come in here.
"We have always been one of leading offices in technology and updating," McElmurry said. "We were the first to have a security system, a safe, locked-up inventory. We've emphasized improving customer service with additions like the dropbox and being open on the last Saturday of the month to meet customer needs and make it more convenient. We're looking at more ways to increase services."
New requirements requested by the Department of Revenue include the placement of a security camera in all license offices. McElmurry said the Chamber has already received a bid for installation.
"Revenues the Chamber gets from the license office are reinvested back into the community," McElmurry said. "That's one of the reasons we feel the Chamber running the license office is a good fit for Monett. We have a good reputation, and we're non-partisan."
The Cassville office, located in the historic Barry County Courthouse, is run privately. The office processed nearly 43,000 transactions in fiscal year 2008 and collected around $143,193 in processing fees. Deadline for bidding on the Cassville office is June 9.
Deadline for bidding on the Aurora office, which is also privately run, is June 16. The office is located on Church Street across from Oak Park. In fiscal year 2008, the Aurora office had 26,765 transactions and estimated processing fees of $88,372.
The bid call has not yet been issued for the license office in Mt. Vernon, which is located on the northwest corner of town, near the Ozark Electric Cooperative office. The office has been run for the past three years by the Mt. Vernon Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.
Steve Fairchild, president of the Mt. Vernon Community Foundation Board, said that if the Community Foundation is successful in keeping the license office, the operation will move to the courthouse on the square.