Idoni Cuts Deputy Position, Reduces Budget by $600K, Improves Services and Protects Citizens

March 11, 2009: It can be done.  Services can be expanded and costs reduced when the government puts its mind to it.

In his 2008 Annual Report, County Clerk Timothy C. Idoni and his staff share a string of success stories that reduce the cost of his office to the taxpayers while improving productivity and increasing services.  The easy-to-read report details how the Office of the Westchester County Clerk is making government easy by implementing 21st century management and technology practices.

“We have listened to the taxpayers and reduced the size and cost of our office this year,” began Idoni.  “We are also revolutionizing the way we do business so that when we are safely out of this recession and into the next upswing, we will continue to produce annual cost savings though our technological improvements.”  Idoni noted that his $8.7 million operating budget reflects anticipated savings of more than $600,000 from 2008 to 2009 based on the changes implemented.

Among the highlights found in this year’s report are:

Productivity through Professional Management:

Responsible Reductions in Staffing:  2008 brought workforce reductions in permanent staff, overtime, temporary and hourly employees as the result of careful planning.  Appropriate and judicious use of overtime and an elimination of the twelve full-time and part-time positions were effectuated. Among the cuts was the elimination of the Chief Deputy County Clerk at an annual savings of $102,765 plus benefits.  The cost of overtime and temporary help has dropped almost $1.1 million since its all-time high in 2004, with a low of $89,891 in 2008.

Finance and Accounting for a 21st Century Office:   To better account for the hundreds of millions of dollars collected by the office, work began on a new accounting and cashiering system to make the office more efficient and transparent.

Scanning Contract Brings Jobs and Savings:  Jobs and savings for Westchester residents are the result of a contract with eDocNY in Elmsford. eDocNY, a subsidiary of Westchester ARC, will provide scanning services in 2009, creating local jobs for the county’s developmentally disabled, making the Clerk’s office more efficient, and saving the taxpayers $125,000 this year alone.

Improving Service through Technology:

An E-filing System of Our Own:  Acknowledged by the New York State Association of Counties as one of the best information technology advancements of the year, the office launched an e-filing system which permits the filing of uniform commercial code (UCC) statements, commonly filed to secure co-op loans, electronically. This initiative has reduced paper, increased productivity, and made filing easier for customers.  

The Future of Land Records:  An ambitious multi-year project was initiated to transform the office’s current labor intensive land records system into a twenty-first century customer driven e-recording program which will become a model for New York State.  It will save the taxpayers a projected $600,000 per year beginning in 2010.

Eliminating Paper Project by Project:  Working with its partners in government to reduce paper and increase efficiency, the office was proud to have begun receiving electronic tax warrant satisfactions from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance; was honored to have partnered with the Internal Revenue Service to develop and test a method by which federal tax liens will be electronically filed with recording offices throughout the country in the future; and worked with the State’s Office of Court Administration to launch e-filing of tax certiorari proceedings. 

Protecting Residents and Businesses

Balancing the Public’s Right To Know and Protection of Privacy:  The Clerk’s Office continued to prioritize protecting our residents and their records by redacting personal information from many records available online; pushing for identity theft legislation at the state level; making personal appearances at senior centers to discuss protecting their privacy and monitoring and providing assistance to victims of foreclosure and the agencies and offices assisting them.

The End of a Bad Tradition:  Idoni was proud to announce the total elimination of the land records backlog in 2008.  In 2004, the backlog of records such as deeds and mortgages had risen to 79,000 documents causing a six month delay in recording and danger to a homeowner’s title to their property.   By the end of 2008, a document delivered in the morning is entered into our system by mid-afternoon and fully recorded in two to three business days. This is done with fewer employees through active daily management and implementation of a more efficient workflow.

Idoni closed by saying the report covers a number of other improvements as well. He indicated that even under the current economic conditions, government can and must work smarter. In the future, he will continue his policy of investing in service improvements and paying for that investment through the recurring annual savings achieved.    

The Office of the Westchester County Clerk is located at 110 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in White Plains and is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays.  For more information, or for a copy of the 2008 Annual Report, please visit our website at or call us at (914)995-3081.