Viewpoint: Administration looking for ways to serve community more efficiently

First, I would like to thank The Maui News for its Feb. 21 editorial, and I would like to recognize the author of the Feb. 26 letter “A different opinion on efficiency of DMV website.” These two differing opinions are truly the representation of a free society that I am grateful to be a part of.

I would like to clarify the services we provide at our Division of Motor Vehicle and Licensing. On the first day of Mayor Alan Arakawa’s current administration, the mayor and the managing director mandated all the departments to enhance the services provided to the community. I am proud to say that our employees at DMVL have done their part to provide more services to the community without increasing fees. They have accepted more work and responsibilities and provided a higher level of service at the same cost as the past two years.

These employees graciously accepted the mandate of ensuring “legal presence” when issuing driver’s licenses. By legal presence, we mean establishing more stringent verification of documents presented by the customers requiring more time to process the transactions. Oftentimes, the customers become very unhappy when the transaction cannot be completed on their own terms and schedule. Some customers are nicer than others and understand that the employees are merely working within the confines of strict laws, rules and regulations which were put in place by policymakers. Others seem to think they are entitled to disrespect our employees just because they are inconvenienced by their failure to bring all the required documentation to complete their transaction. Signs have been posted at the DMVL offices for the convenience of the customers to refer to and ensure that the required documents for the transaction are secured prior to getting in line.

I can assure the public that the Arakawa administration is consistently looking for ways to serve the community better and more efficiently. As such, all the DMVL offices accept payment for water and refuse. As of Jan. 2, these same employees started issuing state identifications. At the Service Center in Kahului you can avail of the “Will Call” or “Drop-off” and we can process for pickup later that day or mail it back to the customer. As it has always been, we are maintaining renewal by mail.

Online renewal is another option for customers to renew their vehicle registration. This renewal option has gained popularity in the past two years. For the calendar year 2011, there were 8,031 renewals and 11,352 in 2012. But because this option or service is currently provided by a third-party vendor, there is a charge for using this option. The fee for e-check payment is a fixed amount of $3.50. For credit card users, there is a fixed amount of $2.50 plus 2.25 percent of the total amount due. At times, the extra credit card charges discourage customers in using this option, as indicated by the Feb. 26 letter writer. However, our current fee structure and budget appropriation is not set up to absorb such a convenience fee for paying via credit card.

I can assure all of Maui’s residents that this administration embraces technology and we have done so with many upgrades to our existing systems. We just have to be mindful that technology costs a lot of money.

* Danny Agsalog is the director of the Maui County Department of Finance.