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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Clay City License Branch officially closing down

Friday, December 10, 2010

The final day the Clay City License Branch, 6 Main St., Clay City, will be open ins Wednesday, Dec. 22, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Times Staff File Photo.
After almost five years of attempting to sustain itself, the Clay City License Branch is closing down for good.

On Monday, the Clay County Commissioners unanimously voted to officially close the branch, which had reopened in February 2006.

Initially, the branch had been closed by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) in October 2005, but the commissioners, along with the assistance of a petition signed by 2,300 residents, help open the doors again.

However, conditions came with the reopening.

The branch reopened with the county running the facility on behalf of the state by providing staff, funding all costs and charging a $4 convenience fee per transaction to supplement the operating expenses.

At the time, the Clay County Council also stipulated that no county funds would be used to subsidize the branch, which received a monthly contribution from the BMV totaling $13,500 annually, along with initial up-front funding.

After netting a profit in both 2006 and 2007, the branch has seen its annual revenue from transactions decline, creating a growing net loss ($3,230 in 2008, $6,566 in 2009 and $7,406 through Aug. 30, 2010) along the way.

"The BMV is encouraging customers to do business by phone, Internet and mail services, which continues to decrease the income for the operation of the branch," Commissioner Paul Sinders told The Brazil Times. "I, along with fellow commissioners Jack Withers and Charlie Brown, hate to close the local branch in Clay City, but without adequate income, the branch cannot continue to operate."

Possible closure of the branch originated during county budget hearings in September 2009, when revenue and expense trends showed that the branch was falling into a bigger hole financially.

In recent months, Sinders has stayed in close contact with the state BMV attempting to secure additional funding for the local branch to continue operations.

Paul Sinders
While the contract between the state BMV and Clay City branch allowed for the convenience fee to be increased to $5 per transaction, the request for the BMV to increase its contribution fell through.

In addition, other factors took place which led to the decision to close the branch.

"While the branch has always had a full-time manager and part-time assistant, new requirements were established by the state BMV stating all branches must have at least two full-time employees," Sinders said. "Even with a $1 increase in the transaction fee, it would not be enough to offset the cost of an additional full-time employee at the branch."

During Monday's meeting, Sinders said he is in the process of canceling all services and utilities, which will be effective Dec. 31, but work to complete the closure will begin before then.

"The last day to conduct business at the Clay City branch will be Wednesday, Dec. 22," Sinders said. "Although it is normally closed on Wednesdays, it will be open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on that day to assist citizens who need end of year license plates, titles and registrations."

The state BMV will be removing all of its equipment the last week of December, with the county to remove its equipment shortly after.

Those who have been using the Clay City License Branch may now utilize another branch in the state, including those open in Brazil, Linton and Spencer. In addition, many transactions may be completed online at https://myweb.in.gov/BMV/mybmvportal/, or by phone through the BMV Customer Service Center at 1-888-692-6841. Vehicle registration transactions may also be completed through the mail.

"The commissioners appreciate the support of the people who worked to reopen the branch in 2006, along with those who have used the branch the past five years," Sinders said. "We also appreciate the great work and dedication all the employees have done working for the Clay City License Branch."

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Such a valuable service to the southern half of the county only to have the council close it because it is losing a few hundred dollars a month. Mike McCullough, Larry Moss, and Paul sinders should be ashamed that they want to inconvenience a few thousand people in southern Clay County so they can save taxpayers a few thousand a year. How about cutting out other waste.

-- Posted by Lafin on Sat, Dec 11, 2010, at 1:10 PM

If you want to blame someone, look to Gov. Daniels. He's the one who chose to close this and many other license branches across the State of Indiana. If you look at the numbers, you can see that the losses are getting larger every year. Plus, the State keeps adding to the requirements which will only make it more costly. What if the State decided to close the Brazil Branch next, should the County be expected to subsidize it also? I don't believe so. It's unfortunate for the people of the Clay City area, however, I believe the drop in the number of transactions performed at the site only shows that more and more people are doing this kind of business on-line or thru the mail. This is a trend that will only increase in the future. I believe the Commissioners and Council are doing the right thing by closing the branch now because the cost of keeping it open is only going to go higher and higher.

-- Posted by open minded on Sat, Dec 11, 2010, at 4:00 PM

Open minded...you are wrong on so many fronts that I am not sure where to start.

Mitch Daniels did the right thing by closing the branch due to the enormous salaries being paid by the state at the time. Commissioners at the time figured out a way to operate it on less. It made a profit according to the paper for two years. Then the current commissioners decided to close on Saturdays and open on Monday. It is losing money because of bad management. Why would you close a license branch on Sat when that is the day that most people get off work to use the local branch? The premise of your flawed argument is that it should be closed because it loses more and more money each year...loss less than 7k/yr avg over three years...are you kidding me. It is not the role of county government to make a profit. It is the role of county government to provide services of value to its citizens. If you honestly believe the council did the right thing because the Clay City license branch lost a few hundred dollars a month, I am sure you will support the county taking back 30k+ per year they waste on the 4-h program which serves fewer people than the Clay City License Branch; or 15k+ they waste on the historical society which serves fewer people than Clay City license branch; or the several thousand dollars the county supports for Senior Center or airport , etc. The county spends 1000's of your taxpayer dollars every year on clubs and organizations that are not county operated or county functions and serve a very small segment of our population and serve 1000's of less people than the Clay City license branch. I say close the Clay City license branch when they quit funding other non-county clubs that serve fewer people combined together than the Clay City Branch. What do you say? I say fire Larry Moss and put Mike McCullough with him

-- Posted by Lafin on Sat, Dec 11, 2010, at 8:00 PM

Open Minded, I would simply ask you to consider two questions. Question 1) Does the benefit of serving several thousand people in Clay County outweigh few dollars it takes to sustain it? Question 2) Name another county office that serves more people on a daily basis than the Clay City License Branch? There may be one or two offices that see as many or more citizens on a daily bases but not many.

The bottom line is this: Without the leadership of Larry Moss to save the branch, it wasn't going to happen because the agreement I made with the council many years ago was that it should be self funded. One councilperson called and shared with me that they were fully prepared to support the idea of assisting the branch by cutting funding from other organizations but when Larry said he used the Terre Haute branch to get his plates, he thought to himself, "Heck, if the local councilman, Larry Moss, doesn't support it, why should I being from Brazil put my neck on the line."

Lafin, "waste" of money is a little strong. I don't think the county waste money on 4-H or the other organizations you mentioned. However, your point is well taken that about the Clay City License Branch serving more people than the county supported clubs like 4-H or ?. If I was on the council, I would have tried to reduce the other non-county organizations support by a $1,000 or so each to assist the Clay City License Branch and insist the Clay City Branch be open on Sat. In my opinion, that would have made a huge difference in reversing the trend.

I hope you will look at Mr. McCullough's and Mr. Moss'total record before you want to fire them. This is one issue in a complete body of work. I don't agree with them and think it is very short sighted but I wouldn't necessarily say they should be fired over this one issue.

-- Posted by Daryl Andrews on Sat, Dec 11, 2010, at 10:11 PM

Time and time again the local government has been left responsible for providing services because state government wanted to look good by lowering taxes...Wake up people, Gov Daniels has aspirations that include the white house. While some of his rhetoric towards education and technology is sound, he doesn't put his money where his mouth is and keeps cutting programs and education as well as other areas.

Times are hard. If an office isn't bringing in enough money to keep it open,it has to close. Plain and simple. I personally find NOT going to the Brazil branch and instead using mail and internet for business with the BMV saves me time and money. I would not be surprised if more offices close down.

I truly believe we will see more closings down the road. Several school corporations have closed elementary schools to raise student population in each building to cut costs. I think Jasper County over in IL was the most recent one.

If we don't tighten our belts now and make do, we will have no money to run anything in the future and then our communities will truly spiral down the drain quickly.

On one hand we want government workers to earn an decent living. We want services by our back door but we don't want to pay for them via taxation.

This isn't the federal government who can print more money...Can't have it both ways. We pay for it now or our kids pay for it. If you don't care about your kids, you've got a bigger problem.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Sun, Dec 12, 2010, at 9:17 AM

Jenny, I don't disagree with you regarding it is time to tighten our belts. I personally don't mind driving to Brazil either but I have the financial ability and means; but many of the people I formally represented don't have the financial ability to do so and now we added according to the IRS, about $20 per BMV visit to those who live in Clay City and south to attend the BMV.

It is not possible to close government offices if they do not bring in enough money to stay open. Only one office in the county made enough money "to keep it open" in 2009 and probably again in 2010. That is the Brazil/Clay County Airport. Every other office would have to close under your scenario because they lost hundreds of thousands of dollars with the exception of the Clay City License Branch (which by government standards broke even;according to the paper less than $8,000 per year which is a rounding error on a multi-million dollar county budget) But the offices that lost money provide services that are needed. Some of the offices are required by the constitution and others are believed to provide more benefit than cost.

It is true that the county does give money away to non-county clubs and organizations. That is a topic that can be debated for days.

-- Posted by Daryl Andrews on Sun, Dec 12, 2010, at 11:44 AM

But what it comes down to is that services cost money. If we don't correlate tax revenue with costs, we are borrowing. This same thing happened with the library. Those is Clay City wanted a library due to fact that we don't have a county library [which I found absolutely shocking when I moved here in 1995 as I had never heard of a community so backwards not to realize that a community that supported a library, supports literacy for all of its members and that in turn makes that community richer both intellectually and financially and makes it more appealing to others looking to invest or settle there]. They got one via a temporary grant but it closed when that money was gone.

If we want to invest in the future of this community, it costs money just like a personal investment costs money. No one would expect to have a personal financial portfolio without putting money into it. Seems the majority here want the benefits without investing.

If we want our houses to be worth more, the infrastructure has to be there to accompany it.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Sun, Dec 12, 2010, at 1:53 PM

Everyone posting has valid points to make. I'm not here to argue with anyone. I did do some internet research. Went to the Indiana BMV website and found that of the following counties --Parke, Vermillion, Sullivan, Owen, Putnam, Vigo, Grene, Knox, Davies,Montgomery, Fountain, and Martin, only Greene County has more than 1 License Branch location. I didn't take the time to look at the entire state, but my guess is that nearly all rural counties only have 1 location. So, Clay County certainly won't be "unique" in only having 1 location available.

-- Posted by open minded on Sun, Dec 12, 2010, at 3:23 PM

I am not siding one way or another. But I do know being a military person, just using Tennesse for an example. That State seperates itself as East Tennesse, Central Tennesse, and West Tennesse. And I personaly think that there needs to be a license branch in the southern part of the county. just from Brazil to clay city round trip is 36 miles at $3.00 dollars a gallon that adds up.

-- Posted by (B_b) is an idiot !! on Sun, Dec 12, 2010, at 11:16 PM

Jenny...I enjoyed your comments regarding the lack of a county library system in Clay County. I knew it was going to be a very difficult road getting a county wide system in place when several crazy people showed up at the commissioner's meeting and started arguing "what does a library have to do with literacy?" That story is always good for a few laughs when I share with officials/citizens from other areas.

-- Posted by Daryl Andrews on Mon, Dec 13, 2010, at 8:07 AM

Okay I think it stinks there closing the bmv. I dont want to do mine on line. I dont trust using my cc on line. I also think the BMV is costing itself more money giving you a tempory plate,license, then sending the realone in the mail. I think it is going to make it easier for Indentiy Theft.

-- Posted by kd323 on Mon, Dec 13, 2010, at 10:25 AM

I too prefer to see my tax dollars going to support the Clay City License Branch vs. the waste on the 4-H program. If people want their kids to belong to 4-H, then let their parents pay for it. Why should taxpayers foot a $30,000 bill every year for a few 4-H parents who want to live vicariously through their children if we can not support a few thousand dollars for 1000's of Clay County citizens who utilize the BMV. I would also add that the Clay City BMV is used by Brazil residents too who don't want to wait 30 minutes to be waited on. Don't just fire Larry Moss and Mike McCullough for their lack of leadership, fire Paul Sinders too. Paul should be the voice of the south. Maybe he should spend more time saving the license branch instead of calling the newspaper and asking them to take his picture in front of another bridge.

-- Posted by whynotlook on Mon, Dec 13, 2010, at 6:46 PM

PS. Who was the moron who approved the license branch to close on Saturday. Good business move that was!

-- Posted by whynotlook on Mon, Dec 13, 2010, at 6:48 PM

I think the only injured parties in this are the employees. Just curious, were they offered jobs at the Brazil branch? I really have to agree with closing the Clay City branch if it was losing $1.00 a year. It isnt like you have to drive to the BMV in Brazil on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. At most it is once a year and that is only if you choose not to pay it on-line. Actually you can go to any branch in Indiana, and dont tell me that you never leave Clay City. If you dont, then you really dont need a license or plates.

Sorry for the inconvience, but in this economy you cant throw money into a sinking ship.

-- Posted by lifehasitsmoments on Sat, Dec 18, 2010, at 9:05 AM

Dear lifehasitsmoments....you are an idiot. Are you in favor of closing down the Brazil branch and leaving the Clay City Branch open since the Brazil Branch loses over 100k per year more than the Clay City branch...itis on the BMV website. Go check it out. After all, since you only have to go once a year you won't mind driving to Clay City. Most people have to go more than once a year unless they ride a scooter. Remember, there will be southern justice in the next election against those who voted againt the Clay City License Branch!

-- Posted by Lafin on Thu, Dec 23, 2010, at 6:48 PM

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