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More room to wait
New driver services center will be first project for facilities authority
Drivers Svcs Building 4 es
Both David and his wife Bobbie Lancaster fill out the information sheet to renew their licenses at the Department of Driver's Services as others wait for their number to be called Wednesday morning. - photo by Emily Saunders

John Harris of Forsyth County took time off from work on a recent Wednesday morning to get a new driver's license at the Department of Driver Services building.

"This place is tiny," Harris said of the facility that shares space with Georgia State Patrol Post 37 off Ga. 400 in north Forsyth. "I mean, it serves the purpose, but the waiting room could probably be bigger."
Department of Driver Services spokeswoman Susan Sports couldn't agree more.

"We appreciate the partnership with the state patrol, but we've certainly outgrown the building," Sports said.

Average customer wait time during March at the Cumming Department of Driver Services was 11 minutes and 12 seconds. The facility served 5,232 customers that month, Sports said.

"On the busy days, customers have to stand out in the rain and the elements," she said. "And we want to be sure our customers have a comfortable place to wait when they have to wait."

They may not have to wait much longer for a new facility. Last month, the Forsyth County commission approved an agreement with the Department of Driver Services for a 20-year lease on a new 8,000-square-foot building.

The building, which will be built across County Way from the state patrol post, is the first project for the newly created Forsyth County Public Facilities Authority.

The authority can provide revenue for projects immediately, instead of having to wait for funding to trickle in through other income streams. It cannot, however, issue bonds for more than $20 million.

Customers waiting for license renewals and driver tests on a recent spring day at the local driver services said they could appreciate a new building.

"I think it's been a long time coming," Theresa Fowler of Forsyth County said.

Fowler took an early lunch to renew her license.

"This building's pretty cramped," she said. "It wasn't as crowded last time I was here. I think it's gotten worse over the years."

Sports said there will be less customer confusion after the move.

"They're still finalizing some details, but these things usually take less than nine months to finish," she said.

State Sen. Jack Murphy of Cumming said he feels the new facility will be an improvement.

"It's going to be a lot better," he said. "It will be a nice facility."

Murphy and the rest of Forsyth County's state legislative delegation pushed for the formation of the public facilities authority. The measure passed the General Assembly and the governor signed it in April.

"We've been working on this a long time," said Murphy, who pushed the bill for three years. "That little facility they use is too small. People are having to wait outside in the summer sun because they can't all fit in the building."

According to the bill's wording, the authority will have five members, each picked by a county commissioner. A member's term would expire with the term of his or her respective commissioner.

The authority will not be able to help with projects like a courthouse or county jail, which is slated for a November bond referendum.

But money from the resulting revenue bonds could be put toward the construction of a Forsyth County Sheriff's Administration building, according to Chief Financial Officer Bill Thomas.

The bonds could also be used for community projects like public safety improvements, parks and roads, Thomas said.