August 29, 2019
Helena – The Lewis and Clark County Motor Vehicles Department is currently addressing ways to reduce the wait times to register motor vehicles.
This week Paulette Dehart, Lewis and Clark County Treasurer/Clerk and Recorder, requested a budget amendment to the Board of County Commissioners to hire a full-time staff person to assist customers before they reach the licensing window. This will allow a staff member to be in the motor vehicles hall to interact with customers, answer questions, issue ticket numbers, ensure customers have required paperwork, let customers know their dealership paperwork status, or if they need to go to a different office.
“The number of transactions continues to increase in Lewis and Clark County and around Montana. We find that many people wait in line, only to get to the window and learn they don’t have the correct paperwork, the dealership hasn’t sent their paperwork yet, or they need to be somewhere else entirely,” said Lewis and Clark County Clerk and Recorder/Treasurer Paulette Dehart. “People’s time is valuable and we continue to seek solutions to make this a better, more efficient process.”
Dehart continued, “We also have restraints, such as the statewide computer system that is used. It interacts with multiple databases and can run quite slowly at times. We must look for solutions within our control in order to help our customers.”
The State Department of Justice is currently looking at the possibility of installing second monitors for staff so they can navigate the system more efficiently.
Additionally, the Lewis and Clark County Motor Vehicles Department is now fully staffed. Two new hires who replaced retirees are completing their required training and the Department will soon be operating at full capacity. Existing staff have been working overtime since June 1, opening all windows at 7:30 am.
Other changes include limiting LLCs to two titles at a time. LLC’s are encouraged to make an appointment in time allotted each week specifically for LLC title work. This frees up the motor vehicle windows for residents.
The public is also encouraged to check lines on the webcam on the Lewis and Clark County webpage before coming down: http://www.lccountymt.gov/car/motor-vehicle-web-cam.html
There are several convenient ways to renew without standing in line. If your tags have not expired, renewals can be done online at https://app.mt.gov/vrr/renewal/index.html. They can also be dropped in a lock box installed in the motor vehicle hall.
People can schedule title work by calling the Lewis and Clark County Motor Vehicle Department at 406-447-8328.
In Montana, the Montana Attorney General Vehicle Services Bureau (VSB) regulates title and registration of motor vehicles. All registrations take place at the local county treasurer’s office. The VSB provides the county treasurer with hardware and software, the treasurer title and registers the vehicles. Payments taken by each County are sent to the State of Montana.
Lewis and Clark County employs 10 people to do title and registration work. They process over 8,000 transactions per month, and approximately $12 million per year.
The Montana Enhanced Registration and Licensing (MERLIN) System is the software provided by VSB for vehicle registration and title work. Due to the amount of information required to be input into this program, title work can take a significant amount of time, which is the main reason wait times can be long.
Additionally, when LLC paperwork is filed in Montana, it establishes a company as a “resident.” Because Montana has laws on not charging sales and/or use tax on property that requires a title, companies benefit by forming a Montana LLC. LLC’s tend to conduct multiple transactions at once, thus taking up a substantial amount of time in the title line. Therefore, appointment times are set aside for LLCs to do title work to help streamline the process.