The DOT maintenance garages in Rock Valley, and Akron are two of seven statewide to be closed, along with garages in Centerville, Corning, Gowrie, Sabula, and Soldier. The DOT says the 28 employees who work out of those facilities will be given a chance to work in other DOT offices with “higher service demands.”
In addition, the DOT will be closing their Driver’s License Station in Spencer, as well as another in Carroll, on August 31st.
This downsizing follows a budget fight in the legislature. Republicans in the House were skeptical of the DOT’s request for nearly $10 million extra to cover negotiated union salary increases and would agree to only provide half that much, Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer explained.
D-O-T officials say the extra tax revenue from last year’s increase in the state fuel tax must be used on roads and bridges and cannot be used to cover salaries. Earlier this year, Republican Governor Terry Branstad talked with reporters about the budget conflict.
In mid-May, the DOT’s director announced he would hire more private consultants rather than full-time state employees, to save on salary costs. DOT officials announced this week that nearly 70 full-time positions in the department will remain vacant for the next 12 months as well.