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August 14, 2020 - 10:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in County Clerk, DMV, news.

The Batavian received the following complaint from a reader:

I dropped off paperwork at the Batavia DMV. They say it takes 2-3 weeks to get it back. You're telling me that something that takes normally 20 minutes to do in person takes weeks due to the COVID? Could you please help shed light on this for all of Genesee County.

County Clerk Michael Cianfrini responds:

Very simply, the volume of dropbox work has increased exponentially since we were able to reopen and began processing them, while at the same time we are seeing an increase in dealer work, providing great service to our in-office customers and manning the phones all day long. We are currently receiving approximately 20x the normal daily volume of dropbox transactions, in addition to seeing a significant increase in the volume of our dealer work.  Every day we allocate staff to focus on the dropbox work, but when 200 or more transactions are received each day, including many, many from out of county, we can only do our best to process them and return them as quickly as we can. We have to dedicate staff to the dealer work to ensure that those transactions are processed and returned in a timely fashion, and we obviously have to assign staff to service the in-office customers who have made appointments. We also currently hand deliver dozens of license plates to Genesee County residents at the curb outside every day, in order to avoid them having to come into the office and unnecessarily placing themselves at risk. Factor in the fact that we now receive well over 600 phone calls per day that someone has to try to answer, and we, unfortunately, end up with approximately a 2 week turnaround time. 

While some customers may view this as an unusually lengthy turnaround time, I assure you that given the situation it is not.  In fact, we are receiving so many out of county transactions via mail and the dropbox precisely because many of the surrounding counties are experiencing an even longer lag time. Based upon conversations I have had with other county clerks, two weeks is actually a shorter turnaround time than many other county DMVs can provide. I would also like to add than in the case of registration renewals submitted with the renewal invite that the customer received in the mail, we are able to process them and mail them back usually the same day. We are also one of the only counties that have phone lines still open to the public to answer questions, as many other counties have turned off their phones completely, a fact that out-of-county residents express to us on the phone countless times each day. 

In summary, while the situation may not please every customer, Genesee County is absolutely not alone in experiencing a backlog on submitted transactions. I am very proud of the job we are doing and the service we are providing given the circumstances. We are in the same situation as almost every DMV statewide and are handling the extreme volume of work in an efficient and timely manner all things considered. If one were able to even reach a neighboring DMV on the phone, they would find that Genesee County is as fast or faster in most cases in processing and returning work. While one transaction may only take “20 minutes to do in person,” that transaction must now take its place in line with the hundreds and hundreds of other transactions that were submitted before it. For every complaint that you may hear from an anxious customer, I assure you we receive many times that number of "thank you’s" and compliments on our fast and courteous service. 

I hope this sheds some light on the situation, and I thank the residents of Genesee County for their continued patronage and patience.

December 16, 2019 - 5:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Green Light Law, DMV, County Clerk, news, notify.


A change in the law, called the "Green Light Law," that would allow people in the United States without legal permission to be here to obtain a driver's licenses is getting push back in Genesee County from local residents and the County Clerk.

A small group of residents staged a protest outside County Building #1 this morning. Also this morning, County Clerk Michael Cianfrini announced a moratorium on new driver's permits because he is concerned about the lack of training his staff has received about the new law.

"We're out here because we disagree with Gov. Cuomo about the law," said Carl Hyde, or organized the protest. "We're American citizens and we have a right to freedom of speech and to say the law is wrong and we disagree with it."

He expressed concern about DMV staff locally not receiving adequate training to inspect documents from other nations and decide if documents that are presented to determine identity are legitimate documents.

That's also the worry of Cianfrini, who has been hoping the governor would delay implementation of the law or a court would intervene to at least slow down its implementation.

"As it became obvious that none of these were going to happen, I consulted with county management and our county attorney and decided that this was the best course of action in the very short term," Cianfrini said. "As the state has changed many of the policies and procedures that we use to process new applications while providing minimal training and information on exactly how to handle various situations, we were uncomfortable with completing the transactions."

He said that if clerks were presented with documents they could not verify or authenticate, or if the clerks suspected fraud, they would be prohibited from contacting law enforcement and from keeping copies of the docuemnts. At the same time, he said the county DMV has been told to handle suspicious documents "as we always have."

"I am afraid that we will either take a copy of something or report something that we shouldn’t, and find ourselves in violation of the law, or accept and process something that we shouldn’t and likewise run afoul of the law," Cianfrini said. "As we do not discriminate against anyone based upon a suspicion of country of origin or suspected legal status, we felt it necessary to implement this blanket moratorium on new permits to protect ourselves and to be in a position to handle the transactions properly when we start issuing them again.  It is my sincere hope that we will be able to begin processing new permit transactions again within the next few days."

October 19, 2017 - 1:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in County Clerk, news.

The County Clerk's Office continues to deal with a surge in work related to pistol permits, County Clerk Michael Cianfrini told the Legislature's Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday during a department review.

From 2009 through 2012, the office handled an average of 206 new pistol permits and 1,400 amendments to permits (adding or removing guns). In 2016, there were 671 new permits issued and 3,190 amendments. In 2017, the office is on track to issue 450 new permits and handle 3,800 amendments.

Much of the new pistol permit work is a result of the SAFE Act. Anybody who had a permit issued before 2013 must recertify their permit by 2018. 

The amendments are being driven by the need to correct the record on what pistols permit holders still own.

And that can be time-consuming. 

"We have permit holders looking to remove guns they perhaps sold in the 1980s," Cianfrini said. "A lot of times they don't know when they sold it or where they sold it. Our pistol clerk has to try and track down those guns and find out when they were sold, where they were sold and where they're registered now."

It's a lot of extra work and there's no state reimbursement for the staff time.

Among the other news out of the department, many of the forms and documents that people need to file with the County Clerk's Office can now be filed electronically. That's especially helpful, Cianfrini noted, for people living out of the county or out of state.

In about six months, the office will also be able to accept electronic filings of documents in civil litigation.

Cianfrini also displayed for legislators two Donate Life trophies. This is the second year in a row the county's Department of Motor Vehicles has won the small- and medium-county division of the state's competition for signing up the most people to become organ donors.

"It's something we’re very proud of," Cianfrini said. "My staff takes it very seriously. They really try to push it and so far we’ve been successful."

January 8, 2015 - 5:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in county treasurer, County Clerk.

The way the county treasurer and county clerk see it, the NYS Office of Comptroller didn't do a very good job of crossing its Ts and dotting its Is when it came to issuing audit reports on their offices last month.

While the reports only raised minor bookkeeping issues and found no real evidence of mismanagement, both Scott German and Don Read told the Ways and Means Committee yesterday that they were blown over by the negative audit reports.

"Essentially, the State Comptroller's Office didn't follow normal protocol," German said. "There was no entrance interview, no exit interview, and they always give 90 days to respond and have our response in the audit, and that didn't happen either."

Read said the auditor who hit his office never clarified how certain court records were being handled, just said they weren't being handled correctly.

"Everything she complained about in the audit, we do," Read said. "They said we don't keep a record of it because we don't keep it in a book. Well, we don't keep it in a book any more. We keep it in a folder, a printout. We no longer have to write in a book, get a book out. We put it on computer. That was acceptable the last time they did a court and trust fund audit. They didn't raise any issues, but this time they found fault with it."

Like the Treasurer's Office, Read wasn't given a chance to file a written response before the audit was made public.

The treasure was knocked for not notifying the state of $507 in a trust that needed to be turned over as abandoned. German said the state has changed the rules on the time frame of such notifications in the past few years, but never communicated that change to county treasurers. The lastest printed booklet from the state, which is what German's staff was using contained the incorrect information. (There is apparently a downloadable booklet that is corrected.) He said his staff now has the corrected state booklet.

Ray Cianfrini, chairman of the Legislature, said the couple of minor complaints in the audit report were really a credit to both county offices because nothing more serious was found.

German said his office is currently in the third month of what he expects to be a year-long audit, and he's sure some discrepancy or another will be found.

"I'm sure they're going to find things," German said. "They always do, but nothing major."

April 5, 2012 - 3:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in veterans, Don Read, County Clerk.

Genesee County Clerk Don Read has organized a program to help honor and reward U.S. military veterans.

It's called "Return the F.A.V.O.R." and provides registered veterans with a card that can be presented to some local merchants for discounts on goods, services and meals.

"We need to show the veterans, beyond that first day they come back and beyond Veteran's Day, how much their service has meant to Genesee County," Read said. "We would not be in the position we're in as a county, as a state, as a nation if it weren't for the veterans and the service they have put in."

The program requires veterans to visit the County Clerk's Office and present their DD214, which serves another purpose for Read, who wants to see all veterans keep copies their DD214s on file with the clerk's office for safekeeping and easy retrieval should the veteran's copy get lost.

A DD214 is a federal document that proves both honorable discharge and military service and is required for a wide range of veterans services.

Some 40 merchants have signed up so far to offer discounts to veterans who show a copy of the "Return the F.A.V.O.R." card, including Delavan's, Oliver's, Settler's, Lambert's Design Jewelers, Valle Jewelers, Adam Miller Toy & Bicycles, Batavia Downs, Roc-City Total Care Care and Tire, Ken Barrett Chevrolet and Kreative Design Kitchen & Bath. (For a fill list, click here).

The card costs $3 and the program adds no extra costs to taxpayers.

Any veteran of any era with a valid DD214 is eligible to receive the card.

October 7, 2010 - 12:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, County Clerk, DMV.

If the county's Department of Motor Vehicles office were to cut 5 percent of its expenses, it would seriously jeopardize current, profitable revenue streams, County Clerk Don Read told the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.

donread.jpgIn 2009, the county's DMV took in $70,000 in profits, and that number could top $150,000 in 2010.

As part of the county's budget process, department heads are being asked to suggest ways to shave 5 percent of their expenses.

Read said to make that significant of a cut he would need to lay off a staff member, which would mean less staff time to process DMV paperwork for out-of-county auto dealers.

Apparently, Read's office has been able to build a business around servicing the DMV needs of Monroe County dealers because of quicker turn-around times.

Eliminating staff members would take that process from three or five days to 10 days or more, erasing the edge Genesee County's DMV office has over Monroe County.

"We've gone from a deficit in that office of $41,000 to this year showing a significant profit," Read said.

He thinks 2011's profit could exceed $200,000.

Profits from the DMV office go back into the county's general fund.

Read said the local staff's primary responsibility is taking care of walk-in clients, so if staffing were reduced, their would be less time available to handle dealers' DMV needs.

About 35 to 40 percent of Genesee County's walk-in DMV clients are from outside of Genesee County, and if waits became longer because of staffing constraints, the county would start losing that business as well.

County Manager Jay Gsell called the idea of 5 percent cuts a "suggestion."

"We told the department heads, you know your budget better than we and so we'll take those suggestions and see what to do with it," Gsell said.

During the Ways and Means Committee meeting, there didn't seem to be much enthusiasm for cutting the county clerk's budget.

"The bottom line is the bottom line," said Mary Pat Hancock, chairwoman of the Legislature. "I’m glad you’re making money. I don’t want to hurt that."

April 1, 2010 - 12:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in new york, license plates, County Clerk.


Genesee County Clerk Don Read holds up one of the new New York license plates, which are now available.

Unlike the original plan, switching to the new plate is not mandatory, and just because you register your new vehicle, doesn't mean you will get the blue and gold plate. Unless requested, according to Read, the old Empire State plates will be given out until there are none left (that's them on the shelves behind Read).

People who want the new plate when it's time to renew their vehicle registration, can request a pair.

However, vehicle owners with "County Clerk Plates" (GS, BA and 7H series) will have to wait until the current supply of those Empire Plates are used up. The State isn't sending out county plates until current supplies ares are depleted.

Read, a history buff, said he likes the plates' retro design.

"A lot of people don't like them," Read said. "I think they're nice."

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