Tuesday, Apr 24, 2018
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Milan struggling to retain state office

MILAN - There is a fight here, and in Lansing, to keep the local Secretary of State branch office open, and it has bipartisan support.

Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land announced a plan in June that would involve closing the Milan office at 1158 Dexter St. in the North End Plaza and consolidating it with the larger office in Ann Arbor.

The idea is that through the consolidation of resources, the Ann Arbor office could offer improved services and enhance its technology to do more than just renew drivers' licenses and register voters.

Both state Rep. Kathy Angerer (D., Dundee) and state Sen. Randy Richardville (R., Monroe) say the closing would put undue pressure on the local community.

"When you consider both the economic consequences on the community and the impact on individual citizens, Secretary Land's decision to shut down the Milan branch office simply does not make sense," Ms. Angerer said last week. "People from three counties have come to rely on this location for its notably fast and friendly service."

The Michigan Department of State Branch Modernization Program targets ten offices statewide for similar consolidations.

According to the state program, the Secretary of State's improved Web site enables residents to do more online. As a result, the Web site says, residents do not have to go to local offices as frequently.

"I know [Ms. Land] has worked hard to further modernize the operations of the Department of State and I applaud many of her efforts," Mr. Richardville said. "On this particular branch, however, I have to respectfully disagree with the secretary."

Both legislators said the Milan office is much more efficient than the Ann Arbor office.

The Milan office did 96,402 transactions for $12.13 million in revenue, while the Ann Arbor location had 131,357 transactions worth $13.87 million in 2006.

The Milan City Council passed a resolution in support of keeping the office open.

"There are about 96,000 transactions there a year, and for a town of about 5,800 that's quite significant," said Dan Bishop, the city administrator.

"It brings a lot of money into our community, helping our local economy."

Mr. Richardville said the closing could burden senior citizens.

"I am particularly concerned for the senior citizens and those with disabilities who may already have difficulty visiting the Milan office," he said.

"Traveling farther will make it increasingly difficult for these residents to obtain licenses or complete necessary paper work," Mr. Richardville said.

Ms. Land said the new consolidated branches will have high staffing levels and offer additional services like credit card payment, driving records access, instant title transfers, and testing centers for mechanics.

She said she is trying to add services without asking the cash-strapped state for more money.

Lawmakers must balance a budget - which now has a $1.8 billion hole - for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

Other branch offices in the area include: 7200 Lewis Ave., Temperance; 1107 South Telegraph Rd., Monroe; 1114 South Winter St., Adrian; and 59 East Saint Joe St., Hillsdale.

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