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May 21, 2020 - 11:46am

Cianfrini: All roads will lead to county DMV office once restrictions are lifted

Genesee County Clerk Michael Cianfrini said he is expecting a major traffic jam when the Department of Motor Vehicles office on the lower floor of County Building I opens its doors once again for walk-in service.

“I do anticipate that when we reopen, we’re going to be inundated,” Cianfrini said on Wednesday as he provided an update on DMV/clerk’s office operations to the Genesee County Legislature’s Ways & Means Committee.

While a specific date for a full reopening has yet to be determined, Cianfrini said he believes it could happen early next month.

“The last I’m hearing is that we should be part of Phase Two (of the four-phase New York State reopening plan) and the date I hear kicked around, but it’s by no means set in stone, is June 8th,” he said.

Cianfrini said that throughout the COVID-19-induced person-to-person lockout, the DMV office in Batavia has kept busy with reduced staffing that also includes Deputy Clerk Leslie D. Krajewski and two or three customer service representatives.

He said that processing transactions for auto dealers has been steady and that citizens have been utilizing drop boxes in Le Roy and Batavia to a greater degree after his office publicized that option.

“Dealers are actually selling a lot of cars right now … and we have been able to maintain a pretty good dealer work flow,” Cianfrini said. “My goal is to try to get caught up on all the dealer work by the time we reopen. We’re close and the dealer work continues to come in.”

He said his office has been processing vehicle registration renewals, registration transfers, driver’s license renewals (if people submit valid eye test results), vehicle plate surrenders and, more recently, issuing license plates for new purchases.

“Originally, we were told we were forbidden from doing that (issuing plates), but the more I was hearing other DMVs were doing it, we started also issuing license plates to Genesee County residents only,” he said. “We have a limited supply of plates and we have not gotten resupplied on that, so we don’t want to run out.”

Financially, revenue is not far off of 2019 levels, he said, with $300,000 coming into the county for the first four months of this year, compared to $353,000 for the same time period in 2019.

Cianfrini said that the office is “ready to go” as far as social distancing and other safety protocols are concerned, but did admit that answering the phone may be placed on the back burner at the outset.

“We may have to temporarily turn the phones off when we first reopen … and we may try to change our message to include all the information that we typically get asked when people call -- to just include that in the message -- but on a temporary basis to focus on the people who come in,” he advised.

He pointed out that there will be a lot of 16-year-olds who haven’t been able to get their permits, as well as many, many others seeking service. He also mentioned that employees will continue to encourage people to use the drop boxes.

“If we have the 500 people in line that I anticipate once we reopen … we can’t do the phones and answer the customers that are waiting in line,” he said, noting that the office has received hundreds of calls per day – nonstop from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. – mostly from out-of-county residents unable to get through to their DMV offices.

Cianfrini also reported on activity at the County Clerk’s office upstairs, citing the effectiveness of e-recording (land documents) and e-filing (civil filings) software that was implemented last year.

“We’ve been fairly busy … attorneys have made the transition to e-recording very smoothly,” he said.

He said the office receives a couple dozen calls a day about pistol permits, a service that he hasn’t been able to provide.

“But when we do reopen, that’s going to be the thing that really drives us,” he said.

Cianfrini also said he is not worried about a permanent loss of revenue.

“I don’t anticipate a big drop-off beyond the national economic downtown … (as) pretty much anything that would have been recorded is going to be recorded and anything that would have been filed is going to be filed – and anybody that planned on doing a passport or pistol permit transaction will probably still come in anyway once we reopen.”

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