DMV delays branch closings, layoffs, until after concession revote

The state Department of Motor Vehicles will delay planned closings of branch offices and other facilities in eight communities – and layoffs of department workers — until Aug 19 and 20 to await the results of a union concession vote that could make them unnecessary, according to a department statement released this afternoon.

The announcement marked the second time in two days the administration pulled back on a painful budget cut just before implementation. Fall sports for more than 1,500 students at the state’s vocational-technical high schools were spared Wednesday.

“While we await the outcome of the unions second vote, we have determined that closing and reopening will cost the state money that should be saved. So, we are delaying both of these actions for a few weeks,” DMV Commissioner Melody A. Currey wrote. It would cost the state an estimated $500,000 to close and potentially then reopen the facilities, the department estimated, citing costs tied to facility relocation, leasing, unused vacation and sick time pay-outs to laid-off employees, and unemployment compensation obligations.

The department had planned to close branch offices in Danbury, Enfield, New Britain and Old Saybrook, a satellite office in Putnam, and photo licensing centers in Derby, Middletown and Milford as of Aug. 11. Those closings, along with elimination of 191 jobs, were part of a department effort to meet Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s directive to save about $22.3 million in total over this fiscal year and next.

The administration submitted one of the largest budget-cutting plans in recent history to the legislature on July 15 to replace the $1.6 billion in savings it originally planned to achieve over two fiscal years through a concession package.

The State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition rejected an initial concession deal in June that included a two-year wage freeze, an employee wellness program, and new restrictions on pension and other retirement benefits. The deal also called for raises of 3 percent annually for the three years following the wage freeze, extended the state’s health care retirement benefits program through 2022, and guaranteed job security for the next four years for workers who accept the wage freeze.

Union leaders voted last month to revise SEBAC bylaws to make it easier to adopt a concession package and reach an understanding with Malloy on July 22 to hold a second vote. That vote is expected to be completed by mid-August.

“At the time of announcing the closings, we did not know if a second vote would occur,” Currey added. “Now that it is actually underway, we think it is prudent to put on hold these actions until the outcome of that vote is better known.”

The closings and layoffs of workers in those branch and other secondary DMV facilities offices have been delayed until Saturday, Aug. 20. Layoffs planned for some workers in the DMV’s main office in Wethersfield have been delayed until Friday, Aug. 19, the last day of that facility’s work week.

After announcing that sports at the vo-tech schools had been saved, Acting Education Commissioner George Coleman said the move would require the State Department of Education to identify budget cuts elsewhere.

“Governor Malloy and the Office of Policy and Management have worked with [the SDE] to finance the fall sports program at vocation-technical schools across the state,” Coleman wrote in an email statement