The last three paragraphs of this article were inadvertently deleted from the version that appeared in the June 17 print edition. The CV regrets the error.
Several clerks at the Mineral Department of Vehicles Select addressed the town council at their June 14 meeting, asking members to reconsider increasing their salaries to reflect the work they do.
Council approved a six percent pay increase for all town employees in May that would go into effect on July 1. The average salary for the DMV clerks in Mineral is $12 an hour; a six percent increase would be $12.72 an hour. The DMV manager makes $15 an hour, which would increase to $15.90 in the new year.
“We’re making less than entry-level jobs in Louisa, including places like Sheetz and Domino’s, as well as similar localities,” said Shannon Hawkins, one of the clerks who spoke. “Even with the six percent increase, we will be well under other localities.”
Hawkins cited a salary study presented to the town council from their auditors, Robinson, Farmer, and Cox Associates which looked at five localities of similar size to Mineral: the towns of Amherst, Blackstone, Irvington and Louisa, as well as Cumberland County. Amherst, Blackstone and Cumberland County all have DMV Selects.
The study found that clerks in those DMVs made annual salaries ranging from $28,517 to $36,525. Mineral’s clerks’ annual salaries range between $24,450 and $27,747. The study found that the DMV manager position, with an annual salary of $31,200, is also underpaid in relation to those localities, where salaries range from $41,622 to $52,886.
The study went on to offer recommended salaries for the town employees, suggesting increasing the hourly rate for DMV clerks to an average salary of $14.77 per hour, with an recommended increase to $17.57 for the DMV manager.
In addition to concerns over salary, Hawkins raised the issue of the long hours that clerks are working. With full-service DMVs throughout Virginia operating on an appointment basis, the Mineral DMV Select has seen an increase in the number of people coming through, many of them coming from outside Louisa County. The town has moved up the deadline to be in line several times over the past few months, with current policy that people must be in line by 2 p.m. in order to conduct business that day. Even with that cutoff, staff still have late afternoons finishing their work.
“People are getting in line at 4:30 in the morning, so by the time we open at 8:30, we’re already three or four hours behind,” said Kathy Byers, who has worked part-time at the DMV for 12 years.
Both Hawkins and Byers raised concerns over security as an increase in traffic through the DMV has led to an increase in encounters with angry and frustrated customers, fueled in part by the long waits in line.
“It’s very scary, dealing with the amount of people and money that we do with no security,” Hawkins said. “We try to give [the customers] the best we can, but we still have people who leave here cussing us.”
Aside from interactions with disgruntled customers, the constant flow of people through the DMV has led to a stressful environment for employees.
“We have people standing in front of us all day,” Byers said. “When one person leaves, another person is right there.”
She said the combination of these factors has resulted in a large number of employees resigning, including one who handed in their two weeks’ notice on Monday morning. Byers estimates that, in 12 years working at the DMV, at least 12 employees have left, many for better-paying jobs.
“That’s a big turnover for such a small place,” she said.
Dr. William Thomas presented council with a pay scale that would start town employees at $15 an hour, with salary increases based on years of experience. No action was taken on the pay scale, or to offer any increase in salary for employees beyond the six percent raise previously approved. Council did vote to approve a $600 bonus for all town employees, to be paid on June 25 from surplus DMV revenue. The motion passed 4-1, with Ed Kube voting against.
Tommy Runnett made a motion that council review the salary study and, upon receiving the auditors’ recommended updates to job descriptions, to take action on changes to employee salaries on or before the council’s Nov. 8 meeting. He said he wanted to make sure the issue didn’t get “swept under the rug.”
The motion passed 3-2, with Runnett, Kube, and Roy “Snake” McGehee voting in favor.