Motorists drive down Front Street in downtown Ketchikan. (KRBD file photo)

Update, Feb. 9, 2022: TSS, Inc. announced on social media that appointments at the new private DMV office, which it’s calling “TSS Express” would begin Feb. 14.

Original story:

A Ketchikan business plans to open a storefront where people can register vehicles, renew licenses and other services offered by the Division of Motor Vehicles. Ketchikan’s  state-run DMV office temporarily cut back its hours this week because of a staff shortage.

There is a catch: customers of the private venture can expect to pay $10 to $15 for the convenience of not navigating the downtown state office with limited hours.

Renee Schofield says her company, TSS, Inc., plans to start offering some DMV services at its Carlanna Lake Road office early next month.

“We’re trained up in the tags, titles and licenses, so your basic stuff — if you need to renew a driver’s license, that should be available; if you need to register a vehicle transfer, title, etc., that should also be available. And that’s the bulk of what people are doing,” Schofield said in a phone interview this week.

Down the road, Schofield says she plans to offer all the same services that the state’s DMV office does, including driving tests. But she says that’s several weeks out.

Schofield says expanding into DMV services is a natural fit for her business — she already offers drug tests mandated by federal transportation authorities, and a clinic next door conducts mandatory physical exams.

“And that was a common thread of people saying, ‘I wish I could do all of that in one place,'” she said. “So that became a natural thing for us to add so that we add to what our customer client base really needs. And it adds the licensing on another end of town.”

The state still collects fees from every DMV transaction. So for those who go the private option, Schofield says, her company needs to charge something on top.

“Because obviously, we have to be paid to house it and staff it, etc. But it does give you an option of not having to go to another end of town — or if for instance, like today, they’re closed most of the day,” she said.

DMV Director Jeffrey Schmitz told KRBD via email that the limited hours in Ketchikan are due to one of the office’s two employees being on leave.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration last year proposed eliminating six state DMV offices and replacing them with private vendors. But state officials say that’s not the case in Ketchikan. Schmitz says TSS approached the state about offering DMV services, and the state does not intend to permanently reduce hours or close the Ketchikan office.

Schmitz says Ketchikan’s DMV office is expected to return to regular hours next week when its second employee is back at work.