February 6, 2016

State DMV website draws business, revenue from counties

DMVBob Ellis/staff photographer
The entrance of the Cortland County Department of Motor Vehicles office on River Street in Cortland is shown Friday afternoon. Cortland County Clerk Elizabeth Larkin said increased use of a state DMV website is drawing business and revenue from the counties.

Staff Reporter

The state recently announced that its online Department of Motor Vehicles transactions have increased sharply since 2014, but one Cortland County official said this week that this has come at a cost to county DMVoffices.
County Clerk Elizabeth Larkin, whose office oversees the Cortland County DMV, said Friday that her office has seen total revenue decrease more than half, from $5.3 million to $2.5 million. Cortland County keeps about 12.7 percent of the revenue from many fees that it processes and separate fee that is based on sales tax collected on transactions.
Last year alone, the county kept about $400,000 of the revenue from DMV transactions performed at its office on River Street in Cortland. Larkin said the county supplies the facility and manpower to perform DMV transactions at its local office.
State DMV revenue from web transactions has skyrocketed since a 2014 website upgrade that gives customers the option to schedule an appointment or make a transaction online.
The state Department of Motor Vehicles announced Jan. 28 that more than six million transactions were processed on its website in 2015. The number of transactions, which include processes like renewing and replacing driver licenses, renewing and replacing registrations, and obtaining driving records, increased by 500,000 over 2014, and is up from four million transactions in 2011.
DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan said that the 2014 system upgrade has improved business by reducing wait times.
“By making it easier to do business online, we continue to improve customer service. I encourage New Yorkers to take advantage of these services for a quicker, easier DMV experience,” Egan said.
Counties receive 2.66 percent of the revenue from online transitions. That means for an $80 transaction online, Cortland County will only receive $2.18.
Joe Morrissey, a representative from the state DMV in Albany, said Cortland County received $4,681 from DMV web transactions in 2015.
The Cortland County DMV is striving to keep transactions by local residents and companies from going directly to the state.
The county offers 25 services, like clearing insurance lapses or change of address at no cost.
Larkin said that the Cortland County DMV office will not be sustainable against online DMV transactions in the future.
Another attempt to keep DMV dollars in the counties is a bill that was passed in the Senate in 2015 that is pending in the Assembly. The bill would give county DMVs20 percent of an in-office transaction fee as opposed to the 12.7 percent they currently receive.
Larkin is also hopeful for a new change to air travel that would require more in-office DMV transactions. The federal Department of Homeland Security passed the Real ID Act in 2005, which attempts to have citizens change to using a passport card or passport during air travel.
With the Real ID requirements, residents must show proof of citizenship and residency along with having a photo taken at the DMV.
New York drivers have not seen changes due to a series of deadline extension by the state Department of Motor Vehicles. The current extension expires in October, and Larkin is hopeful that this change to air travel will generate more local DMV transactions and more revenue.

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