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Missoula County DMV headaches explained

Posted at 2:51 PM, Jul 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-16 18:48:40-04

MISSOULA – Some people are complaining about wait times at the Missoula County Treasurer’s Office.

Earlier this month, people wanting to register a vehicle or complete title work were waiting for hours, sometimes having to come back days later.

County officials say not enough employees and computer problems caused the delays.

Vehicle registration and title work is completed through the Missoula County Treasurer’s Office while the processing system runs on the state-regulated Montana Enhanced Registration and Licensing Information Network (MERLIN).

The Missoula County Treasurer’s Office has six staffers for processing vehicle registration and titles; on average, at any given time, there are about 30 people waiting in line.

On July 1, during the busiest time of year for vehicle registration, there were about 90 people were waiting to register. MERLIN also experienced issues that day, causing delays in service.

County Clerk and Treasurer Tyler Gernant says people complained about the five hour wait times.

“That’s not acceptable in our world, so it was not something that we were prepared to have software out for that long, and it normally isn’t, but we tried to recover as best we could,” Gernant told MTN News.

He added a typical wait time is around 90 minutes and they’re back to that now.

The Montana Attorney General’s Office that operates MERLIN which was also the subject of complaints last year.

Montana Attorney General’s Office spokesman John Barnes noted the state doesn’t manage the county treasurer’s employees or resources.

“We’re always working to try to make these things function as best we can, but there is an awful lot of this that is beyond our control,” Barnes said.

“We’re here to try to make these things work and work better, and it doesn’t serve us to leave problems unresolved,” he told MTN News.

Barnes says those issues have been fixed, and they’ve received no formal complaint from any county in Montana this year.

He added that some county departments may be low on resources due to individual tax and revenue situations.

Gernant says the Missoula County Treasurer’s Office is understaffed, but there’s not enough office space to hire more employees.

“We’ve got literally as many people as we have work stations available right now,” Gernant said.

He is also pushing for online title registration, which he says would cut down two-thirds of the customers they see every day.

The Missoula County Elections Office is in the same space as the Treasurer’s Office.

Back in March, the Elections Office looked into buying and moving to a property on Russell Street which would give them more space, and also allow the Treasurer’s office to expand.

If you need to book an appointment at the Treasurer’s Office, you can do that and check wait times online.

Gernant pointed out that there are a number of services people can do online and over the phone.

Reporting by Katie Miller for MTN News