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DMV pitches headquarters move from Raleigh to Rocky Mount

January 31, 2019

The state Division of Motor Vehicles headquarters may move from east Raleigh to Rocky Mount, officials confirmed Wednesday.

That move still has to be approved by the Council of State, a collection of statewide elected officials including Gov. Roy Cooper. Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake, who who represents the area where DMV’s main office is located, promised Wednesday to “do everything in my power” to fight the move.

The headquarters is on New Bern Avenue, and the building has had problems for years. A 2007 review found “a multitude of life safety issues” that were at least partially addressed by about $625,000 in upgrades completed in 2011.

The state budget passed last year required the headquarters to move by October 2020. At one point, it required a move within Wake County, but that was changed to allow a new location in a surrounding county.

The state got bids from eight entities pitching 10 locations, and the lowest bid was on Church Street in Rocky Mount, according to state Department of Transportation spokesman Jamie Kritzer. Annual costs at the site would be about $2.4 million a year, according to a timeline the DOT provided.

The Council of State vote is slated for Feb. 5. If approved, the General Assembly would still have to appropriate funding for the move, Kritzer said.

Blue said in a release Wednesday that downtown Raleigh has been an economic hub and that Raleigh as a whole has seen economic growth. But the ZIP code surrounding the current DMV headquarters includes some of the poorest areas in the city, he said, and employees in the building are some of the lowest-paid in state government.

“To ask them to take on the financial burden of a two-hour daily commute is punishing them to go to work every day,” he said. “As a result, DMV will create additional morale problems, lower customer service and higher employee turnover rates.

“Moving jobs from one struggling area to another is not legitimate job creation,” Blue said.

Kritzer said in an email that the department understands employees have concerns and that it will work with them as the process moves forward to make a transition as smooth as possible. The department also plans to work with the city of Raleigh on redevelopment of the old headquarters site.

The potential move to Rocky Mount was first reported by The News & Observer.

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