Officials are set to open a Texas Department of Public Safety driver’s license office inside the Denton County Southwest Courthouse next Tuesday — one year after it was originally scheduled to open.
The reason for the delayed opening, Denton County officials said, is due to staffing issues from within DPS. The physical space for the new office has been ready since last summer, when officials opened the county administrative building at 6200 Canyon Falls Drive in Flower Mound, south of Argyle and just west of U.S. Highway 377.
Shannon Joski, the chief administrator for Denton County Commissioner Andy Eads, whose precinct is getting the new DPS office, said the new office will be 2,002 square feet and there will be four stations available to the public.
DPS officials have not said how many DPS staff will be working the new office when it opens, nor have they said how many of the four stations will be operational.
DPS officials have found themselves under increasing public pressure to hire more people to staff local offices. North Texans have complained about waiting in longer lines this summer at local DPS offices. In response to the long waits, the agency recommended that it close 87 offices around the state. Shuttering the offices, officials said, would enable the agency to move staff around and meet demand more efficiently.
A Denton office is on that list, and DPS has said that people could go instead to its “mega center” about 25 miles away in Carrollton. Numerous officials in Denton County and throughout the state detested the suggestion. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he didn’t support the closures. He did, however, reiterate another suggestion that DPS has been making: People need to do better about taking care of DPS-related business online when they can.
Denton County Judge Mary Horn said during Tuesday morning’s Commissioners Court meeting that she supports the efforts to routinize DPS matters through online services, but she said she was absolutely not for shuttering offices around the state.
“I don’t think it’s good service to the public,” she said.
Eads urged people to spread the word that the new Flower Mound office will be opening next week. He said the new office has been a priority of his since he was elected, and that the new county building was built with plans for a new DPS office in mind. When it opened last summer, DPS officials were not yet ready to staff the office.
The fact that DPS office wait times are in the news, Joski said, compounded the commissioner’s push to open the office. She said county and DPS officials finalized the plans late last week.
DPS offices play a vital role in the voting process. The department issues four of the seven types of identification that are acceptable at polling places under Texas’ voter ID law.
The U.S. Census estimates roughly 28,000 people moved into Denton County last year. County Elections Administrator Frank Phillips said most of the people who come into his elections offices looking to register to vote do so with a driver’s license.
When the new DPS office opens next Tuesday, officials including state Rep. Tan Parker and state Sen. Jane Nelson, both Republicans from Flower Mound, are expected to be on hand at the office for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.