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Erie County legislators approve Kearns' proposal to hire 11 additional civil service employees for auto bureaus

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Fri, Apr 13th 2018 05:15 pm
On Thursday, the Erie County Legislature voted to approve Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns' request to hire 11 additional civil service employees for the county auto bureaus. The resolution passed through a bipartisan effort. Kearns will use these new positions to add additional Saturday services at the Northtowns Auto Bureau in Tonawanda.
Kearns said hiring these 11 additional civil service employees will cost approximately $338,000 for 2018 and will not create an extra expense to Erie County taxpayers. Working with the county legislators, Kearns will use a surplus in auto bureau revenue to cover this cost.
In 2017, the Erie County auto bureaus generated more than $5.5 million for the county, with a surplus of $772,661 over budget. This increase in staffing will cost about 43 percent of that surplus.
"I thank my partners in the Erie County Legislature for working with me to provide better service for Erie County taxpayers," Kearns said. "The use of taxpayer money is something I take seriously, and I am a firm believer that taxpayers deserve to receive the best, most efficient service possible. Using this surplus to bring in additional resources will have a significant benefit to our customers using the auto bureaus and will help us to continue to generate revenue for our county."
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. From 2017 to 2018, license renewals have jumped from approximately 40,000 to 134,000, a more than 300 percent increase.
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. Because of this, Erie County auto bureaus are experiencing a significant increase in volume, leading to lengthy wait times of up to two hours.
Kearns will use these civil service positions to open an additional Saturday for the first time in 13 years, expanding the flexibility for service and easing the stress on auto bureau employees.
"We know that people's lives are no longer conducive to making it into an auto bureau between regular business hours. However, we are also dealing with harsh realities from New York state. The state has shown a lack of urgency in assisting local auto bureaus to deal with this unprecedented influx in transactions," Kearns said. "At the end of the day, it is the taxpayer who is hurt by this, having to wait excessively long periods of time to do business at the auto bureau. Bottom line is the taxpayer's time is more valuable than mine, the county's or the state's. Customers shouldn't have to take off of work to use our services and, by expanding weekend hours, we can keep business and revenue right here in Erie County.
"I thank my colleagues in the legislature for voting in favor of these positions, in favor of efficiency and in favor of the taxpayer. Today is a win for the customer."
Concerning a timeline for hiring and beginning Saturday service, Kearns will receive the list of eligible Civil Service candidates by the end of April. He said he expects the newly hired civil service employees to be in place by May/June.

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