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County Clerks Throughout The Region Call on State DMV to Return Processing of Vehicle Renewals

Thu, Nov 02 2006

            Rochester -- Members of the Finger Lakes Region of the New York State Association of County Clerks (NYSACC) held a joint press conference today to object to the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles' desire to contract with an outside entity for the processing of motor vehicle registration renewals. Hosted by Monroe County Clerk Cheryl Dinolfo, the group argued that the State's move would cost local governments needed revenue and jeopardize the security of customer's personal driving record information by placing it in the hands of outside firms. As an alternative, the group asked the State DMV to return processing of all vehicle registration renewals to local offices run by the County Clerks.


            Finger Lakes Region NYSACC chair, Livingston County Clerk Jim Culbertson, joined Dinolfo, along with Ontario County Clerk Jack Cooley, Cayuga County Clerk Susan Dwyer, Wayne County Clerk Mike Jankowski, Yates County Clerk Julie Betts and Steuben County Clerk Judy Hunter.


            Each county retains 12.7% of each transaction it processes. The State's takeover of online and mail-in registration renewals has negatively affected all of the Counties represented today. Monroe County alone has lost $3.5 million since the State's decision to take over processing of mail-in and online vehicle registrations. State employees currently process online and mail registration renewals in Utica, and the New York State DMV is preparing a Request for Proposals to send that work to an outside entity.


            In addition, all of the County Clerks present worry about further losses in revenue as online registration renewals grows more prevalent. The group called upon DMV Commissioner Nancy Naples to allow the County Clerks to process online vehicle transactions, which is currently prevented by the State. The Clerks argued that they need to be allowed to process online DMV transactions and that they have proven that they process these transactions more quickly and efficiently than the State.


            Due to Albany's centralized processing of renewals, the Clerks maintain that they consistently issue duplicate registrations for customers who fail to get their documents back from the State DMV in a timely manner. This fact causes customers great inconvenience and generates added cost for local offices run by the Clerks, not to mention perpetuates a negative impression many customers hold of the DMV.


            The Clerks present stated that they have worked tirelessly to reduce wait times and improve customer service in their offices. They are confident that the County Clerks' handling of online and mail-in registration renewals would be an improvement over the State DMV's current service as well as help County taxpayers by keeping their money working at home.


            "This proposal is fundamentally flawed. I am deeply troubled that local taxpayers will suffer at the expense of the State DMV and its outside vendor," said Dinolfo. "By returning handling of all registration renewals to the County Clerk, the State can improve customer service, defend against identity theft and help protect local taxpayers."


            "The registration renewals were part of the County Clerk's DMV business for years. We did this work efficiently and economically. We are prepared to take back this work and will provide the same excellent service that we provided before NYS took this business away. By taking back this service we can help to relieve the heavy tax burden of all local taxpayers," said Livingston County Clerk and New York State Association of County Clerks Finger Lakes Region Chair Jim Culbertson.


            “In Wayne County, local processing of registrations has meant better service for the customers and keeping revenues local,” said Wayne County Clerk Mike Jankowski. “Frankly, I find it difficult to believe that our people will be better served by sending these vital documents and registrations to a potentially out of state entity.”


            "Collectively our counties invest thousands of dollars annually to ensure that our employees maintain their proficiency in motor vehicle technical and security training. With counties across the state expressing their desire to provide these services locally, it just makes common sense for the state to have these renewals processed by trained and secure county resources versus out-sourcing them to some unproven entity," said Jack Cooley, Ontario County Clerk.


            "Our priority as County Clerks is to deliver excellent and efficient customer service. the State is obviously out of touch with the people we serve," said Sue Dwyer, Cayuga County Clerk. "We think the taxpayers of New York State deserve the best service for the best price, and we resent the State selling the taxpayers short!"


            "Increased local revenue and some tax relief for the local taxpayer would be the result of returning the registration renewal processing to the County Clerks," said Judith Hunter, Steuben County Clerk. "Until 1999, the County Clerks quickly and efficiently processed mail-in registration renewals. It seems most sensible to return the work to us rather than outsourcing it since the County Clerks have a proven record of service as well as the technical and security training."


                Yates County Clerk Julie Betts voiced her concern stating, “We are a small county and rely upon our DMV revenues to offset the expense of running and supporting our local DMV Office. Also, DMV revenues help ease the burden for our already overburdened property taxpayers. Furthermore, our County DMV office is still able to process registration and license renewals via the mail with a one- to two-day turnaround, as this office previously did before the state’s takeover of mail in 1999. The outsourcing of the mail transactions is neither timely, nor cost-effective to the taxpayer. A registrant or licensee pays the same fee, regardless of how the transaction is processed. However, the losers are the county and its taxpayers because an outsourced transaction means zero dollars are retained by the county locally. My other concern is sensitive, personal information being circulated to a private agency.”