Modified: March 12, 2020 3:14pm

March 12, 2020

Kearns addressing the Media at the Downtown Auto Bureau


The Erie County Clerk’s Office provides face-to-face services to the public on a daily basis, performing nearly a million transactions each year, and as a result it is undertaking comprehensive efforts to confront COVID-19 and prevent its spread.

“As we learn every day, we cannot afford complacency in our efforts to help contain COVID-19,” said Kearns. “We cannot be afraid to confront the truths regarding the spread of this virus. Sound preparation is not panic.”

In coordination with the Department of Public Works, Division of Buildings and Grounds, as well as the maintenance staffs at the Auto Bureau’s leased locations, measures have been implemented to ensure sanitization of the of all counter spaces is performed nightly. At the Erie County Auto Bureaus, an environmental audit was performed by Catholic Health after Kearns took office. On their recommendation to help prevent the spreading of disease and viruses, chairs were purchased that can be frequently sanitized. These chairs are also being sanitized each evening.

The CDC identified public pens as a trouble spot for transmission, and many transactions require the public to use a pen to fill out forms. Kearns is instituting a “takeaway pen” program in the Erie County Clerk’s Office and Auto Bureaus where customers will no longer be sharing pens. Yesterday a request for immediate consideration was filed with the County Legislature to permit the County Clerk to accept donated pens from local businesses to eliminate the taxpayer burden of this program. Customers are also encouraged to use their own pens.

Kearns also addressed other measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19. “We have heard that ‘social distancing,’ or eliminating exposure to large crowds is another tool in this fight to prevent the spread of COVID-19. I am STRONGLY URGING all visitors to the local Auto Bureaus that they use our online reservation system for all their visits. Our online reservation system has proven over the years to eliminate wait times and prevent congestion in our Auto Bureaus. Please, if you have business with our Auto Bureau, make an appointment so we can lessen customer’s exposure to others and prevent large numbers of folks waiting in our Auto Bureaus.”

The Erie County Clerk’s Office not only serves the Auto Bureaus but it provides essential services to the court system and the Erie County real estate market. It generates a multi-million-dollar surplus annually which alleviates the property tax burden of County taxpayers. The Erie County Clerk’s Office is continuing to fine tune and implement its Continuity of Government Plan.

“Ensuring the continuity of operations is paramount to preserve confidence in our government,” said Kearns. “The Erie County Clerk’s Office will be submitting its Continuity of Government Plan to the Legislature next week. I want to assure my fellow elected officials and the public that we have the necessary measures in place to help preserve the public’s access to the courts and continue churning the gears of the Erie County real estate market. For Auto Bureaus, this may also include going to a ‘reservation only’ appointment system.”