Many NC DMV workers would leave agency if HQ moved to Rocky Mount

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Most of the workers surveyed at the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles headquarters in Raleigh said they would leave the agency if the headquarters moved to Rocky Mount, according to a memo sent to employees Monday and obtained by CBS 17.

State leaders are weighing whether to relocate employees at the existing New Bern Avenue headquarters to a site in Rocky Mount.

The state legislature mandated the DMV accept bids on new office space in Wake and surrounding counties because of various issues with the current site. 

Hazard mitigation steps were taken, such as asbestos removal and addressing fire code violations. The legislature mandated the DMV move by late 2020.

The lowest bid on new office space to lease is a site on North Church Street in Rocky Mount, which is about an hour drive east of Raleigh.

“I enjoy the job. I enjoy coming to work. I like this organization. But, I just don’t think it was planned out right,” said Dexter Thompson, who has worked for the state for 29 years, with the last three being at the DMV. 

Thompson said he’s begun looking for a new job to avoid having to commute to Rocky Mount.

The DMV hosted three “listening sessions” with employees at the headquarters about the potential move. 

Of the 255 who responded, 145 said they would leave the DMV. Forty-eight would remain with the agency, while 62 are uncertain. To read the memo employees received about this, click here.

As possible ways to retain workers, the DMV also asked about preferences for working remotely full- or part-time, transportation assistance and work schedule flexibility.

RELATED: DMV Listening Sessions full report

“It don’t make no sense. I mean, it don’t take a rocket scientist. But, I’m just a small man,” said Thompson. 

Last month, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) postponed a vote by the Council of State on the Rocky Mount proposal. He’d previously expressed support for the idea but said he wanted to take more time to address various concerns raised by employees and some state legislators. 

The Council of State is scheduled to take up the issue again Tuesday, but Cooper’s office did not respond to questions about whether the governor intends to delay the decision any further.

Rep. Grier Martin (D-Wake) urged the council to wait. 

“It does need to be put on hold,” he said. “What I would like to see is the state ensure that it takes into account all the potential costs of a move before it makes any decisions. It’s clear that has not happened in the current process.” 

In the meantime, state Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston) has filed a bill that would re-open the bid process to allow the DMV to receive proposals for locations to purchase in addition to leasing. Click here to view that bill.

“What my bill does is just go back and say, ‘whoops, we made a little error on the front.’ We just said look to lease when we should have said lease or buy,” said Torbett. “We actually in legislation said to lease. And, that was a fault on us. We never should have boxed us in. We should have said lease and/or purchase.”

RELATED: DMV Listening Sessions full report

He said he’s concerned the state may not get the best deal by leasing because the owner of that office space would still pay property tax, which is a cost that could be passed on to the state. That wouldn’t be the case if the state purchased a site.

“It’s all about the people’s tax dollars and what’s the biggest, or best bang for the buck so to speak,” Torbett said.

He said that could still result in the DMV moving to Rocky Mount. 

When asked about concerns among employees who would be affected, Torbett said, “It’s my understanding, talking to the secretary, that everything’s going to be done to try to work with them to try to locate … continued employment in the state somewhere.”

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