The state has restored funding to Warren County’s Driver Testing Center after nearly two years of forcing the city and county to pay rent to keep the facility open.
Tennessee General Assembly’s House Finance, Ways and Means Committee placed $48,000 for Driver Testing Center rent on Vervilla Road in its 2018-19 fiscal year budget as a recurring expense.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” said Warren County Executive Herschel Wells to the state. “I’m glad the state is stepping up to take this over. Warren County and McMinnville taxpayers have foot the bill long enough. We’ve spent $96,000 saving the Driver Testing Center. It’s their building. It’s their employees. It’s their service.”
Warren County and McMinnville taxpayers took on that financial burden two years ago with both local governments agreeing to split $4,000 a month in rent on the building, a stipulation by the state in order to prevent its closure until funding could be revisited.
The state closed the facility on May 31, 2016 as part of a cost-saving measure and moved its local employees to other testing centers. The controversial closure left Warren countians with long drives to either Cookeville or Tullahoma, the two closest testing stations, to get licenses or certain types of renewals.
A kiosk in the county court clerk’s office on Locust Street provided some driver license services.
A deal was eventually struck between the city of McMinnville and the state: If the city pays the rent, the state would fund everything else and the facility would reopen.
When that agreement was reached, Warren County government decided to pay half the rent. The state reopened the facility Oct. 17, 2016.