Schenectady County

Schenectady County adding DMV clerks

Two more window reps being added to address long wait times
Schenectady County Clerk John Woodward and Deputy County Clerk Cara Ackerley stand in front of the new DMV building in 2017.
Schenectady County Clerk John Woodward and Deputy County Clerk Cara Ackerley stand in front of the new DMV building in 2017.

SCHENECTADY — It now takes more than an hour, on average, to get through a transaction at the new Schenectady County Department of Motor Vehicles office on State Street.

County officials are now hiring more people to address the situation, which they blame on the popularity of the recently opened office.

A combination of growing foot traffic since the office moved from downtown Schenectady in October and delays due to explanations of new license renewal options has doubled or even tripled customer wait times in recent weeks, County Clerk John J. Woodward said.

What used to be a 20- to 45-minute wait for full service is now 60 to 120 minutes, Woodward said. 

In response, he has asked the County Legislature to fund two more customer representatives. The request cleared the county’s Labor and Civil Service and Ways and Means committees this week. It will be voted on by the full County Legislature Tuesday.

The move comes a month after another window representative was added because of slowdowns caused by the need to explain new license-security options to people renewing their licenses. New York state residents will need an enhanced license by Oct. 1, 2020 in order to board commercial air flights or to enter federal buildings.

But basic foot traffic is also up at the new location, something that was somewhat anticipated because the new location is close to many car dealerships.

“As we discussed, DMV is a basic service we provide county residents, and these wait times are unacceptable,” Woodward wrote in a memo to County Manager Kathleen Rooney. “I would compare it to not being able to pick up the garbage or plow the roads in a timely manner. These additional positions would allow us to bring those wait times down to a more acceptable range.”

People who come in for a transaction are given a numbered ticket, rather than being required to stand in line. Data from the ticketing system shows that 7,408 tickets were handed out in May, up from 5,794 in May 2017 — a nearly 22 percent increase. Other months since the move reflect similar increases, according to county data.

Deputy County Clerk Cara Ackerley said the busiest time is around the lunch hour, and a busy lunch hour can make it hard to catch up with transaction processing by the end of the day.

The office opens at 8 a.m., and Ackerley said many people also try to get their transactions done before going to work.

She said the county doesn’t have any way of tracking the number of people who leave because the wait is too long.

Adding two more representatives will cost the county about $51,000 for the remainder of the year — an amount Ackerley said can be covered because the additional transactions being done have increased DMV revenue. She said it would mean all 10 customer service windows at the new location could be staffed.

Reach Daily Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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