MOUNT VERNON — If the license bureau’s recent attempts to improve their facility have turned into the “BMV Blues,” the song might soon be changing to “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” Tom Sutton, landlord of the North Sandusky Street facility, joined Deputy Registrar Sam Barone and Clerk of Courts Mary Jo Hawkins in a meeting with the Knox County Commissioners, Thursday.
Sutton presented pricing for proposed renovations to the current facility which would allow Hawkins’ Title Department to move across the hall to a slightly larger office, while walls would be tweaked to allow the Title Department, Deputy Registrar’s Office and the State Highway Patrol’s Driver Exam Station to all have separate, securable office space. Sutton said that the renovations would cost about $100,000, and that he had incorporated them into the rental rate, to be spread out over a period of seven years. He revised this time frame down to five when advised by Commissioner Allen Stockberger that the maximum span the city could commit to was five years.
Barone and Hawkins blanched when they saw the revised rates, which would see their individual rents more than double.
“My gut feeling here is that I would consider this a financial hardship to make this kind of investment over the next five years,” Barone said. “It would have an impact on my business.”
“It’s not a good use of taxpayers’ money,” Hawkins said, to spend $100,000 in five years on a building the county doesn’t own. “It’s hard for me to justify this when I’ve cut my employees’ hours 10 hours per month.”
Commissioner Robert Wise asked Sutton if he would at least fix the front door air-lock problem, whether any renovations are made or not. Sutton said that he had no problem with that and would tend to it immediately. Barone said that a new front door would take care of 60 percent of his problems with the facility and that improvements to the steel curtain separating the BMV from the retail operation next door would take care of most of the rest of it.
Barone asked Stockberger if a new building was off the table. Stockberger said that it was, for now. Barone said that perhaps they will have to leave everything “as is,” with the exception of the front door. He asked Sutton if it was safe to assume that their current rent would not change.
“No,” said Sutton, referencing a paper he brought which indicated that his net profit on the entire building was less than $9,000. If he had finished paving the parking lot, Sutton said, his expenses would have left him in the hole financially. Therefore, if the county accepts the renovation pricing, it will stay at that level, but even if nothing new is done, rent will be going up with the start of the new lease in July.
It was decided that further progress could not be made without a representative of the State Highway Patrol in the meeting. A follow-up meeting will be held in two weeks, with an invitation going out to a patrol representative to join them.
The commissioners also went to Mount Vernon City Hall in the afternoon for the proclamation of MRDD month.