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Budget Cuts 6 DMV Offices in Delta, Tok, Valdez, more

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Alaska Public Media

The state Division of Motor Vehicles offices in Delta and Tok are among a half-dozen rural branches on the chopping block in Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed budget. That means a long drive to Fairbanks to get drivers licenses.

“I can only imagine   if Tok goes down, those people are going to be driving 200 miles to go to the DMV.”

That’s George Rauscher, the state representative for the big curving house district that covers hundreds of miles from Delta Junction to saltwater in Valdez.

Gov. Dunleavy’s budget rolled out earlier this month proposes saving money but eliminating state jobs and lease expenses by shuttering six DMVs: Haines, Tok, Valdez, Eagle River, Homer and Delta Junction. Three of those are in District 9, which Rauscher represents.

“They seem to like my district somewhat.”

Rauscher says he’s already made an appointment to talk to the administration about the burden the office closures will put on his constituents.

“Its always been my impression that DMVs are one of the things the state makes money on . We want to know the financial records on that particular office. They’re gonna have to bring those numbers with them, so we can have that discussion.”

Rauscher says if you live in Valdez, it’s about 120 miles to the nearest office in Glenallen. But at least there are roads. The administration has suggested Haines residents travel to Juneau — by ferry – but then they would stay there at least overnight. In March, it will be a week between ferries. The cost of food, hotel and missed work adds up.

Sarah Hannan, the house representative for the Upper Lynn Canal, says these changes also pull money out of rural Alaska.

“Every time this administration has looked at cuts, I think about jobs in communities,” she said. “I have no idea what the pay schedule starts at for a DMV clerk. But it’s a job in that community. And by closing it down, it means we’re not only cutting out of service, but we’re moving money out of a local economy, that has a purpose and a goal. And it should be there.”

Closing the six offices will eliminate six jobs from the state’s payroll.