Popularity predicted for self-service vehicle registrationMitchell terminal requested by treasurer-elect
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Davison County Treasurer Brenda Veldheer said it’s too soon to speculate about how much work a new vehicle registration self-service terminal (SST) will save her office, but she’s certain Mitchell’s new terminal will be an added convenience that will be used by many.
Mitchell’s SST will be installed early next year at the County Fair Food Store on Havens Avenue.
The machine will dispense license-plate renewal tags on the spot and can be used by drivers from any county, 24 hours a day.
There aren’t enough machines in the state to cut down waiting lines at county courthouses yet, Veldheer said, but they’re a start.
“We’ve been hearing about the SSTs for quite a while, at meetings in Pierre with officials from the Division of Motor Vehicles,” Veldheer said. “We know that people from this area have used self-service terminals elsewhere in the state to renew their Davison County vehicle registrations, and I believe it’s something we’ll see more of.”
State DMV Director Deb Hillmer said the first SST was installed two years ago at the Rapid City Public Safety Building, with mediocre results. That location was likely too close to the Pennington County Courthouse, she theorized, so patrons probably chose to go there directly and save the $2 convenience fee charged with each SST transaction.
Lisa Jenson, a support tech for the Rapid City Police Department, said the machine has saved her a lot of time and gas.
“I live in Meade County and without this terminal, I would have to drive to Sturgis to renew my registration,” she said. “It’s a big savings for those of us who work outside our home counties.”
About a year later, more locations were added, including two at Get-N-Go convenience stores in Sioux Falls and one at the Hy-Vee Food Store at West 49th Street and Louise Avenue in Sioux Falls.
“Those were hits,” Hillmer said, noting the Sioux Falls locations received heavy use.
Six more self-service terminals will be installed early next year, including one at the Mitchell County Fair location. Other new SSTs will be at the Rushmore Mall, Rapid City; Kessler’s, Aberdeen; and at Hy-Vee Food stores in Watertown, Brookings and Yankton.
The SST machines all accept Mastercard and Discover credit cards, but they do not accept Visa cards — yet.
“The biggest complaint we get is that the machines don’t take Visa,” Hillmer said, noting that Visa’s complex fee structure would not allow a simple $2 fee in all cases. VISA may change its policies to allow use of its card, she said, but no information was immediately available on that.
ATM/debit cards — including some VISA debit cards supported by Pulse, Star, NYCE and Accel card networks — will also work in the machine.
If a customer doesn’t have the right credit card, he or she may still use the machine by inserting a blank check. The SST will read the check’s routing numbers and deduct the amount of the transaction, and the $2 convenience fee, from the customer’s account.
One dollar of the $2 fee covers credit card fees and the second dollar goes to the vendor, Hillmer said — in Mitchell’s case, County Fair.
The state pays no rent for the locations, and all location and computer hook-up costs are borne by the location vendor.
What the vendor does get is customer traffic.
“I look at it as a great state-business partnership and good opportunity for both of us,” Hillmer said. “It helps us by providing another avenue for people to do business with us and it provides the store the opportunity to use the terminal as a draw card.”
Hy-Vee offered the DMV all its store locations, Hillmer said, but for the latest SST expansion only the two highest volume locations were selected. All SST stations are open 24 hours a day and dispense license-plate renewal tags on the spot.
Hillmer said Davison County Treasurer-elect Christie Gunkel brought the SST to the attention of County Fair management in September. The store’s subsequent application proposal was accepted by Hillmer’s office.
The SST allows vehicle owners to register up to 90 days before and 30 days after expiration of their current license tags.
Gunkel, a Republican, defeated Treasurer Brenda Veldheer in June’s Republican primary election. Gunkel was unopposed in the general election. Veldheer’s last day as treasurer will be Dec. 28.