Letter: County obliged to return DMV funds to offices
The purpose of this letter is to clear up some misunderstandings regarding the compensation to Mathews County Constitutional Office employees from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. In February 2003, the Mathews Commissioner of the Revenue’s office and the Treasurer’s office became the first in the Commonwealth to jointly offer DMV Select services to our citizens. As part of the new state law that allows this arrangement, a percentage of all DMV fees generated by these offices is to be returned to Mathews County.
The law requires that 80 percent of these returned funds are to be appropriated to the constitutional offices as compensation for the additional duties that are performed for DMV. The law specifically states that these funds shall not be used to offset the salaries of the employees of the offices or to reduce the local share of the state-approved salaries for these employees. This money is additional compensation for additional DMV duties. This money is not Mathews County tax funds that are paid by our citizens, but rather DMV fees included with transactions. Starting at the end of 2009, the Board of Supervisors diverted these funds to the general fund and, since that time, we have not received compensation for the work we performed.
All supplies for these operations are totally supplied by DMV. The county is allowed to retain 20 percent of the returned funds for overhead costs. In providing these additional services to our citizens, there are no additional business hours and no additional employees required. The employees are required to keep up with constantly changing rules and regulations. In response to chairman O.J. Cole, in the Aug. 25 issue of the Gazette-Journal, concerning the number of additional employees needed to perform these extra services, we have had the same number or less employees for the last 30 years and absolutely no additional employees were hired for this purpose. Our DMV customers come from Mathews, Gloucester, Middlesex, the Peninsula and many from the Richmond area during warm months.
On Aug. 19, 2011, Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II issued an advisory opinion stating that the Board of Supervisors is required to appropriate to the constitutional offices 80 percent of the funds remitted by DMV to the county and that the monies so appropriated may not be used to supplant existing local funding for these employees. Our Board of Supervisors has decided, in executive session, to ignore this opinion and continue to withhold our compensation. The stated reasons for this executive session was to discuss county personnel. However, constitutional officer employees are not Board of Supervisors’ personnel.
We hope this letter has cleared up the misconceptions that were spawned by the article in the Gazette-Journal in the Aug. 25 edition, particularly that the employees were asking for a raise. We believe that the DMV service provided by our offices has been a needed and valuable service to all of the citizens of Mathews County and we certainly hope that we will be able to continue our services in the future.
Nancy B. Higginbotham
Chief Deputy Commissioner of the Revenue
Vicky B. Pruitt
Chief Deputy Treasurer
Ashley B. Abrams
Deputy Commissioner of the Revenue
Kimberly C. Canady
Commissioner of the Revenue Clerk