The license office in Bolivar will no longer be under local management, according to a Dec. 13 Missouri Office of Administration news release.
The current contract under Tom and Jean Stark's management will end Dec. 29.
The new management contract for the Bolivar License Office was awarded to York Management Group LLC. According to online records, York Management Group also won bids for three other license offices, including Pacific, which was awarded Dec. 13 along with Bolivar, and Ferguson and Eldon, both awarded Dec. 5.
All license office contracts in Missouri are awarded through a competitive bidding process, and points are given for minority-, veteran- and women-owned entities.
"Bids aree evaluated on items such as methods proposed for performing the service and the offer or status such as an Internal Revenue Service tax-exempt entity (not-for-profit, political subdivision), a Certified Minority Business Enterprise and/or a Women Business Enterprise," according to the Missouri Department of Revenue's website. Consideration is also be given to Missouri Service Disabled Veteran Enterprises. All bids are evaluated by a review team at the Department of Revenue, and the proposal that scores best in areas, including customer service, business experience and other areas, is chosen."
All local license offices are overseen by the Missouri Department of Revenue, but each is operated by an independent contractor and office manager, a position which must be included with the bid.
According to current contract manager Jean Stark, bids closed Oct. 17, but news of the contract award was not received until earlier this month. She said the Starks submitted their bid this year in partnership with current office manager Melissa Cansler and her husband, Matthew.
The office under Stark management
When the Starks were appointed by then-Gov. Matt Blunt to take over the once-closed Bolivar License Office, she said “we felt like such unlikely candidates.”
Until the current non-partisan bidding system was put into place, license offices were subject to changes in management when the governor's office changed political alignment, Stark said.
The local license office, under former contract managers, had closed March 10, 2005, before the Starks were appointed and the office re-opened under new management on May 16 that year, she said.
“I had never been into the license office except to renew my (driver’s) license,” she said Monday.
Stark shared her frustration from that visit regarding the office's practice of not taking debit cards.
“Tom had always taken care of (getting our vehicles licensed)” she said.
Since the Starks have been the contract owners for the local office, credit and debit cards, as well as checks, have been accepted as payment options. The office also has moved to its current location.
"Our previous location had flooded six times, the first being three weeks after we opened," she said. "It was a nightmare. We have loved this new location."
Stark said she feels like she and her staff have built a good reputation for the current office.
"We give special thanks to the wonderful people who have been our employees (who will have the opportunity to stay on)," she said. "We credit them for the good reputation our office has maintained for many years."
She said the office has received many compliments through the years and that customers come from seven counties to do business in Bolivar.
"One customer even told me that she had found on the Internet where the Bolivar license bureau had been rated as the 'friendliest license office in the area,'" she said.
To allow for the new contractor to take over management Dec. 30, the office will be closed Dec. 29 and Dec. 30.
Since the contract was awarded, Stark has been working with the new contracted agency.
"I have offered to sell them all of my furnishings … so they can walk right in and start up," she said. "I wanted to be cooperative because they need help to run the office, and I've got a good crew."
She said the current office wants “to thank all of our customers for their business for the last 12 ½ years.”
"We are grateful for the opportunity we have been given to serve, and we treasure the friendships we have made,” she said.
“I have met so many great people during my time here," said Cansler, who has worked in the office for 10 years. "Even if I don't stay, I will still value the friendships I have made with my coworkers and our customers. I appreciate the business and having this opportunity."