State officials on Tuesday approved moving the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles headquarters from Raleigh to Rocky Mount.
Officials approved the move at the Council of State meeting held in downtown Raleigh.
Current employees working at the division’s headquarters on New Bern Avenue will now face the choice of working at the new headquarters in Rocky Mount or finding another job.
The state legislature mandated the DMV accept bids on new office space in Wake and surrounding counties because of various issues with the current site.
Hazard mitigation steps were taken, such as asbestos removal and addressing fire code violations. The legislature mandated the DMV move by late 2020.
The lowest bid on new office space to lease is a site on North Church Street in Rocky Mount, which is about an hour drive east of Raleigh.
Most of the workers surveyed at DMV’s headquarters in Raleigh said they would leave the agency if the headquarters moved to Rocky Mount, according to a memo sent to employees Monday and obtained by CBS 17.
“I enjoy the job. I enjoy coming to work. I like this organization. But, I just don’t think it was planned out right,” said Dexter Thompson, who has worked for the state for 29 years, with the last three being at the DMV.
Thompson said he’s begun looking for a new job to avoid having to commute to Rocky Mount.
The DMV hosted three “listening sessions” with employees at the headquarters about the potential move.
Of the 255 who responded, 145 said they would leave the DMV. Forty-eight would remain with the agency, while 62 are uncertain. To read the memo employees received about this, click here.
As possible ways to retain workers, the DMV also asked about preferences for working remotely full- or part-time, transportation assistance and work schedule flexibility.
“It don’t make no sense. I mean, it don’t take a rocket scientist. But, I’m just a small man,” said Thompson.
Last month, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) postponed a vote by the Council of State on the Rocky Mount proposal. He’d previously expressed support for the idea but said he wanted to take more time to address various concerns raised by employees and some state legislators.
Rep. Grier Martin (D-Wake) also urged the council to wait to vote.
Despite the wishes of some politicians and a new bid proposal bill by Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston), the Council of State held the vote anyway and approved the move.
It’s unknown when the current site will be closed and the new headquarters opened.
Sen. Dan Blue (D-Wake) released a statement shortly after the vote:
The proposed lease agreement is a bad deal all around. It’s a bad deal for hundreds of low-pay DMV employees that now face a 2-hour daily commute to work. It’s a bad deal for tax payers, who are putting up $36 million to lease a sub-standard building that was purchased for $1.3 million in 2016.
Moreover, the process is a bad deal for state operations – money shouldn’t be the only bottom line in the public sector. Without weighing the human cost of real estate deals, and without taking into account existing inventory of vacant state-owned buildings, we’re not running state government as it should be run. Taxpayers and DMV employees deserve better than this.”