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Swarts Pushes for New Fees, Says Office Generated Millions Last Year

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Erie County Clerk David Swarts says he is working with lawmakers, County Executive Joel Giambra and union leaders to try and re-open the downtown auto bureau.

Swarts says he is working closely with both sides of the aisle in the Legislature -- asking them to approve what he calls a "user fee." He says he's calling for a fee increase in the registrar's office. One idea being discussed is to raise the mortgage tax by about 20 percent. Swarts says that would raise about $9 million in new revenues.

Swarts released a financial statement Thursday, indicating that the clerk's office collected $9.6 million last year. But now Swarts warns that with the massive budget cuts in place, it is unlikely that his office will continue generating those revenues.

Because of recent cuts, the clerk's office lost 68 percent of its staff. Swarts says that is why he was forced to shut down three auto bureaus. Those left on his office staff are trying to carry out a number of duties required by his department from processing house closing paper work to issuing pistol permits.

Swarts says it makes no sense to cut an office that services millions of people in Erie County.