Sheriff Ben Wolfinger is correct that the state, not the sheriff’s office, should be responsible for staffing and managing driver’s license stations. Nebraska is the only state besides Idaho that saddles its sheriff’s offices with this cumbersome and expensive task.
Other citizens are correct that Kootenai County could use at least one more driver’s license station to ease the traffic jam at the Coeur d’Alene office; and that opening stations from four days a week to five would go a long way toward easing congestion.
All of that is true and no doubt would have strong support throughout Kootenai County. But adding driver’s license offices or even days of the week ultimately will cost taxpayers more, whether administrative responsibilities fall on the state or county government.
One of the great things about our county and state is that individuals shoulder a fairly reasonable tax burden. While enjoying outstanding public safety resources, including the sheriff’s office, local police departments, state police and fire departments or districts, taxpayers sacrifice some level of other public service in exchange for keeping our property taxes low.
That’s why you should ask yourself, how much is a particular convenience worth? If you’re waiting to renew a license, for instance, is a tax increase to every Kootenai County property owner justified just because you were inconvenienced an hour or so once every several years?
We applaud Sheriff Ben Wolfinger and his team for providing typically good service at the county’s driver’s license stations despite challenges that are neither his nor his employees’ faults. We also recommend that patrons who have some flexibility with their schedule visit a driver’s license office at times less likely to be horribly overcrowded.
For that info, we went to Capt. Andrew Deak, operations support division commander with the sheriff’s office. According to the good captain:
• County residents’ best bet is to go to the new Post Falls licensing office, which hasn’t been crowded since opening Sept. 15.
• Historically, Capt. Deak said, midweek days — Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays — see a slightly smaller crowd.
• The best times to arrive each day are 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.. Lunchtimes can get bogged down a bit with required lunch breaks, and afternoons — after 2 p.m. — are busiest because of new licenses being issued after school hours.
Capt. Deak also reminds folks that some good news is on the way. A reservation/queueing system is being prepared, and there’s already a tab on the county’s website — Driver License Wait Time (http://www.kcgov.us/dlink.asp) — to see what number is currently being served at the Coeur d’Alene office.
We live in an age of increasing busy-ness — and impatience. One of the best prescriptions for easing wait-line frustrations is plan your trip wisely and expect the worst while hoping for the best.
And maybe bring a good book.