To reduce wait times, Kearns proposes hiring 11 civil service employees for auto bureaus

Modified: June 5, 2018 1:13pm

April 9, 2018


Clerk Kearns to expand Auto Bureau hours to help reduce unacceptable wait times


Erie County, NY- According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles renewal schedule, Erie County Auto Bureaus will hit a record number of transactions in 2018. The main cause of this substantial uptick in transactions is due to New York State license renewals. Because of this, Erie County Auto Bureaus are experiencing a significant increase in volume, leading to lengthy wait times of up to two hours.

On the eight year license renewal cycle, the Erie County Auto Bureaus are entering peak renewal periods this year. From 2017 to 2018, license renewals have jumped from approximately 40,000 to 134,000, a more than 300% increase. The trend in increased renewals will continue over the next four years. This, on top of the other transactions conducted at the Auto Bureaus including, vehicle registration and renewal, surrendering of license plates, and driver’s permit and commercial driver’s license testing, are leading to congested Auto Bureau offices with taxpayers waiting an unreasonable amount of time for service. 

“As the new County Clerk, I was hired by the taxpayers of Erie County to manage the Auto Bureaus,” said Clerk Kearns. “We are seeing exponential increases in transactions every year yet no new civil servants have been hired in nearly ten years to alleviate the stress affecting our Auto Bureaus. As a result, there can be two hour waits at your local Auto Bureau. It’s unacceptable, and I’m going to fix this problem by working together with our partners in the Legislature.”

In addition to the increase in renewals this year, federal requirements will force air travelers to provide identification that meets the ‘Real ID’ standards to board a domestic flight. Either Enhanced Driver’s Licenses or Real ID can be used if the traveler does not have a passport. Both forms of ID are issued through the Auto Bureaus, creating even more traffic at local offices over the next two years.

Working to lessen these lengthy wait times and provide additional support to the Auto Bureaus, Clerk Kearns will hire eleven new Erie County Civil Servant employees for the Auto Bureau offices and expand hours of operation. These positions will be used to add Saturday services and expand operational hours throughout the system to deal with the expected increase in transactions over the next three years. In 2017, the Erie County Clerk’s Office ran a surplus budget of $772,661. The hiring of new staff will not create an extra expense to Erie County taxpayers. The hiring will be paid for through an additional source of funding Clerk Kearns has identified, totaling $1.5 million. Hiring eleven additional employees would cost, approximately $338,000 for 2018.

“The Erie County Clerk’s Office is a profit center for county government. We are the only county office that generates surplus revenue for the county. New York State has shown a lack of urgency to assist local Auto Bureaus in this significant uptick in transactions. As an agency of the state, the Erie County Auto Bureaus have inherited this problem, but are being forced to independently come up with a solution. Our staff at the Auto Bureaus are working diligently every day to serve Erie County taxpayers in a timely manner, however the numbers no longer add up. Since New York State is reluctant to provide local support, hiring additional workers will allow us to both better serve the taxpayers and ease the immense burden on our staff,” said Kearns.

Adding additional staff resources will help to increase Auto Bureau efficiency, stopping residents from taking their business online to the state or to other counties. This will help preserve revenue for Erie County. In 2017, the Erie County Clerk’s Office, sent more than $10 million dollars to the county, and more than $5 million of that revenue was generated by the county Auto Bureaus.

Clerk Kearns will be asking for immediate consideration of the Erie County Legislature on Thursday, April 12th with a formal request to hire eleven additional civil servant employees.