With the implementation of new technology, improved customer service and expansion of outreach services, the County Clerk’s Office is quickly transforming into an efficient and customer-oriented organization. Let’s take a look at some of the new initiatives.
In 2012 when I took office, I was astonished to see the major problems that existed in the Land Records Division which resulted in critical land documents not being returned to citizens and business owners for over one year and checks not being deposited for as long as six months. To resolve this situation, a Re-Engineering Working Group was created to take a look at operations and come up with solutions and reforms to improve efficiency and customer service. The ‘Group’ was led by a loaned executive from M & T Bank and included community stakeholders from the real estate and banking sector, as well as county employees, which represented all factions directly affected by the operation of the Clerk’s Office. This Group took a hard look at all procedures used and came up with 30 recommendations to improve our operation. We took their recommendations to heart and, to date, have implemented over 50% of the recommendations, which resulted in depositing over $3 million dollars in un-cashed checks. In my effort to use technology and save time for our customers and staff and money for the taxpayers, the electronic recording of real estate transactions, known as e-Recording, has been implemented. Attorneys and their clients can now file documents through a web browser from the comfort, convenience and privacy of their office. Electronic recording joins the list of other new technological initiatives – electronic filing of court documents (e-Filing) as well as the automating of New York State Tax Warrants.
The “Thank-A-Vet” and “Passports on the Move” outreach initiatives are part of my administration’s efforts to bring “Government to the People”. Our Veteran’s outreach initiative makes it much easier for Veterans to file their DD214, obtain a discount card and begin taking advantage of discounts offered at participating businesses. In partnership with local Chambers of Commerce, we have dramatically increased the number of businesses offering discounts from only 27 when I arrived in office to over 500 now. In the past 18 months since I have taken office, we have conducted over 30 “Thank-A-Vet” outreach events throughout Erie County issuing over 5,000 “Thank-A-Vet” discount cards to area veterans. The “Thank-A-Vet” card may also be obtained Monday- Friday, during normal business hours, at the Erie County Clerk’s Office located at 92 Franklin Street, in downtown Buffalo.
Additionally, Passport Acceptance Agents from my office regularly accept passport applications at area Malls, businesses, travel agencies and colleges. At a recent passport outreach, 50 applications were processed. A partnership with the Buffalo Passport Agency allows my office to provide expedited passport service wherein the applicant receives his/her passport in three to seven business days. The overwhelming success of our outreach programs can be seen in the significant number of people coming taking advantage of them.
On your next visit to the Auto Bureau, bypass the customer service line and use the new self-service kiosks to register and print out your wait-time receipt. If you are unable to complete your transaction for whatever reason, you can now receive a rain check that allows you to return to complete your transaction without having to wait in line again. We have also improved the hours of operation at the Cheektowaga and Evans Auto Bureaus to better accommodate our customers. In the near future, you will be able to go on line and make a reservation at any one of our convenient Auto Bureau locations.
In 2012 the Clerk’s Office realized a $2.1 million dollar surplus, monies which go into the County’s General Fund and helps to fund critical programs while avoiding the need for more taxes. The reforms along with the expanded services implemented by my office are a major reason for the surplus. The Erie County Clerk’s Office will continue to be a model for government operations, with sound management practices, implementing the efficiencies needed in order to continue to generate savings. All of which will ultimately benefit the residents of Erie County.
If you would like to learn more about all of the new initiatives, please feel free to contact my office at (716) 858-8866 or visit us at www.erie.gov/clerk.