ALBANY — Columbia County Clerk Holly Tanner told state lawmakers that more local tax dollars will stay in small communities if county clerks are put in the best position to operate Department of Motor Vehicle offices that serve the driving and identification needs of local residents.
Tanner testified about increasing the retention rate for county clerk offices that perform DMV transactions at a joint Legislative hearing in Albany on the 2023-2024 executive budget.
“County clerks are best positioned to understand local needs and can respond in a timely manner,” she said. “For example, clerks control the location and hours of operation of local DMV offices, mindful of taxpayer concerns and county demographics.”
Tanner has been a strong advocate for a much-needed retention policy change to provide fairness for county DMV offices and ensure that more money stays in local communities where the transactions took place.
“I’m pleased and grateful that Gov. Hochul listened to my advocacy and the advocacy of my fellow county clerks and took this important, long-overdue step that’s a huge win for localities,” Tanner told lawmakers. “While more steps are needed, the retention rate change contained within the 2023-24 Executive Budget proposal marks an important victory for localities.”
The 2023-24 executive budget proposal increases the retention rate for county clerk offices that perform DMV transactions from the current 12.7% for all in-office transactions and 3.25% for online transactions to a flat 10.7% on all transactions, the proposed rate change is projected to increase revenue retained by counties to $13 million annually.
“We can and should build on this success and continue working for a retention rate that is even more equitable toward counties to ensure local dollars stay locally, where they can be put to the best possible use”, Tanner said. “County clerks are doing more than ever in serving their respective communities.”
According to a 2019 policy brief, “Working with Local Departments of Motor Vehicles,” issued by the New York Association of Counties, under state law, the fee-sharing arrangement between county DMVs and the state had gone unadjusted since 1999. Under the existing arrangement mandated by the state, counties retained a mere 12.7% of the fees collected for work performed at county DMVs and remitted 87.3% to the State General Fund.
“During the pandemic, I’m proud that we kept our Columbia County DMV offices running and accessible, doing so safely and sensibly, to ensure that citizens continued to have access to our services, assistance, and expertise. Our Columbia County office and county clerks across the state play a vital role. We need the resources to fulfill our mission.”
During Tanner’s testimony she spoke about the importance of DMV retention and the importance of DMV clerks, and how local governments can benefit from the provisions made in the executive budget.
“Clerks pride themselves on providing excellent customer service, and we work closely with New York State DMV to provide this service, ensuring that the motoring public is safe and on the road,” Tanner said. “Our value to New York State was evident during the pandemic shutdown: The governor had deemed that auto services were essential businesses, and who was there to make sure that we process transactions and keep the state moving. County clerks ran DMV offices; we provided services to constituents who were in dire need. Without county clerks running DMV offices, transactions would’ve grounded to a halt.”
She described the provision as a huge win for local governments that will result in more tax dollars for the people of Columbia County.
“The provision contained in the Executive Budget proposal is a big win as it makes the retention rate equitable between in-office and online transactions,” Tanner said. “When I served as president of the State Association of County Clerks, I saw through the adoption of the state DMV giving counties any portion of internet revenue, which opened the door for this option to happen. It’s been a long road and I’m pleased that we are finally realizing progress on this important matter.”
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