By MARK EVANS
Ste. Genevieve Herald
Garry Nelson, presiding Ste. Genevieve county commissioner, called the fact that the county has been without a license office since mid-March “absolutely ridiculous.”
Nelson made the remark after Dena Kreitler, executive director of the Ste. Genevieve Chamber of Commerce, reported last Thursday that there was still no word on whom the state would grant the franchise to.
The chamber was one of five entities that applied to run the license office.
Wayne Grusling decided not to renew his contract with the state to run the office. It officially expired March 29. Grusling’s Vehicle Tax Services LLC has been operating the office since March 2016.
The office has been closed since March, due to the COVID-19 virus.
Kreitler said she has been checking on the status of the bid at least three times a day. She also said the chamber has been fielding angry phone calls from frustrated drivers.
Those not wishing to renew plates online are having to drive to Perryville, Festus or other out-of-county locations. The wait time at some of these sites has reportedly been up to three hours.
She also said she had spoken recently to District 116 State Representative Dale Wright and outgoing District 115 State Representative (and District 3 State Senate candidate) Elaine Gannon.
Nelson said Friday that he had spoken to someone at the Missouri Department of Revenue’s License Division and said she “was not very informative.”
In fact, he said the person was downright impolite. When Nelson mentioned that he knew the Chamber of Commerce was one of five entities that had applied and that three had been out-of-state companies, she told him, “You know too much.”
The call added to Nelson’s conviction that not everything is as it should be.
“It leads me to believe it’s political,” he said. “It’s supposed to be on merit, now,with a point system.”
A 17-page application had to be filled out by applicants, with points given for such things as having a local home office, promising to buy only from Missouri suppliers, rate of pay for employees, management experience, etc.
“If you’re going by a point system, it doesn’t seem like it should take you that long to grade the applicants,” Nelson said.
He was told the License Division personnel is working on evaluating the applications, but that it is a slow process. Nelson countered that it had already been six months and repeated his comment that it was getting “ridiculous.”
After that, Nelson said the person “got a little smart with me.”
With people calling the courthouse and the Chamber office, Nelson has decided to hand them off to the people responsible.
“Me calling every week or two and Dena calling every week or two isn’t enough,” he said. “Maybe if everyone would start calling, it would make a difference.”
He suggested residents first call the Department of Revenue’s License Division at 573-526-1827 and then governor Mike Parson’s office at 573-571-3222.
“He’s up for reelection,” Nelson said. Remember this when you go vote.”
He added that angry citizens calling in might spur the state to action.
“The more people who call and complain, the faster something’s going to happen,” he said.
AFFORDABLE HOUSES STILL A NEED
Nelson and Kreitler also talked about the continuing need for more “rooftops,” or available houses for families to move into.
Nelson reported that an affordable housing group had recently met again, but had faced “the same old road block.”
That is a lack of available land for development. Nelson noted that the Church of Ste. Genevieve, which owns a large tract of land around Progress Parkway, had expressed a willingness to possibly sell some of it for development at one time.