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Idoni Delivers Smaller Government, Reducing Costs by $579,317


Elimination of four positions, 59 percent reduction in budgeted temporary staffing costs and 57 percent reduction in overtime budget top list of cost-saving measures in Idoni’s proposed budget

The County Clerk gets a first hand look at important indicators of Westchester County’s economic health.   In early 2006 legal filings began their climb to heights not seen in decades while real estate recordings began their precipitous decline.  As a result, County Clerk Timothy C. Idoni and his staff started identifying ways to cut costs while improving operations.  “In these tough economic times, the public is demanding smaller yet more responsive government and we are delivering” began Idoni.  “But the challenge is to identify solid management solutions that help us reduce our budgets in the bad times and work more efficiently when the good times return,” he continued.

The 2009 budget proposed for the County Clerk’s Office does just that.  Idoni indicated that reductions totaling over a half a million dollars are not one-time budget slashes.  “These are thoughtful cuts that will last because of our progress and planning over the last few years,” shared Idoni.   The vast majority of the cuts result from workforce reductions in permanent staff, overtime, temporary and hourly employees.  “Our cuts reflect the staffing needs of a future office in which technology and partnerships create efficiencies and cost-savings,” concluded Idoni.  Highlights of the Westchester County Clerk’s proposed 2009 budget include:

The elimination of four full time positions for a savings of over $225,000 in salaries 

Eliminated positions: Chief Deputy County Clerk ($102,765 annual salary for 2008), Support Supervisor ($54,475), Clerk ($35,105) and Senior Clerk     ($33,650).

A 6.2 percent reduction in total budgeted expenses

From $9,309,061 budgeted in 2008 down to $8,729,744 budgeted for 2009

A 57.8 percent reduction from 2008 in budgeted overtime, hourly and temporary staffing costs

From $367,930 budgeted in 2008 down to $155,000 budgeted in 2009

A 23.8 percent reduction in contractual scanning expenses from 2008 with the added benefit of providing jobs to Westchester’s disabled   population   

From $525,000 budgeted for 2008 to $400,000 budgeted for 2009 
eDocNY, a venture of Westchester ARC, to provide scanning services in 2009
           

The entire proposed 2009 Westchester County Operating Budget can be found at http://www.westchestergov.com/.  The Office of the Westchester County Clerk is located at 110 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in White Plains and is open between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays.  For more information, please call 995-3080 or visit http://www.westchesterclerk.com/.

Employees join national movement to raise awareness of heart disease in women

go red 2009WHITE PLAINS:  On February 6th, Westchester County Clerk Timothy C. Idoni and his staff put on their red and jeans and raised $1,960 from a bake sale, raffle and sales of “Go Red for Women” ribbons, pins, and bracelets. “Go Red for Women”, a national campaign of the American Heart Association (AHA), educates women about the risks of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

“The statistics are alarming.  Every minute, a woman succumbs to heart disease and though preventable, heart disease is still the number one killer of women in the nation,” stated Idoni, who has a personal connection to the disease with the loss of his own mother, Florence Idoni, in 2006.  “My mother lived a long and fulfilling life but in her last years she suffered due to complications resulting from heart disease,” recalls Idoni.    The “Go Red for Women” movement empowers women with the information they need to reduce their heart risks by making lasting lifestyle changes now that can improve their overall heart health.  In honor of his mother and all of the women who have died or suffer from heart disease, Idoni pledged that his office will continue “to do our part to raise awareness among women to make the right choices and halt the risk of heart disease.”

“I salute my staff, county colleagues, and the public for enthusiastically embracing the ‘Go Red’ movement by committing to improve not only their own health, but also the health of the important women in their lives,” concluded Idoni, who noted that sixty-four percent of his employees are women.  Proceeds from the bake sale, which featured an assortment of delicious home-baked goods donated by staff, and the raffle will go to the American Heart Association to continue the fight against heart disease in women. To find out more information about the nationwide “Go Red for Women” movement, or to make a donation, contact the local Westchester/Putnam regional office of the American Heart Association at (914) 694-6464 or visit http://www.goredforwomen.org/.

Westchester County Clerk Idoni Urges At Risk Homeowners To Get Help Now

Apr. 06, 2009

 While New York’s subprime lending reform bill may have slowed foreclosure filings, foreclosure judgments are still being entered in alarming numbers.  In fact, two hundred and thirty one Westchester foreclosure judgments were entered during the first quarter of 2009. 

County Clerk Timothy C. Idoni urges Westchester residents who may be at risk of foreclosure, to seek help immediately.  “Foreclosures hurt families, hurt our neighborhoods and hurt our municipal budgets” began Idoni.  “And while we are glad to see that the first quarter of 2009 lags behind 2008 in both the number of actions started and the number of actions ending with a foreclosure judgment, it is critical that at risk residents get help before it is too late.” Idoni urged residents to consider the following: 

  • Don’t wait until legal papers are filed in the Office of the Westchester County Clerk.  Residents who have received warning letters from their bank or lender, or who have fallen behind on their payments, must seek help now.  Westchester Residential Opportunities (WRO), a non-profit housing agency with offices in White Plains and Mount Vernon, conducts Mortgage Default Orientation Sessions most Tuesdays in their White Plains office.   Call a trained counselor at 428-4507 or visit http://www.wroinc.org/ to see how they can help you.
  • If you have been served with foreclosure papers, understand that you can still get help.  The commencement of a foreclosure action does not mean that a Westchester home will be lost to foreclosure.  Many homeowners enter into a repayment plan, secure a modified loan, refinance with another lender or sell their home on their own to avoid foreclosure.  Do not give up.
  • Beware of foreclosure rescue scams.  As foreclosure rates climb, so do the number of mortgage foreclosure scams. Making a bad situation worse can be avoided by relying on a reputable counseling agency or a trusted attorney to guide you through the process.

The Westchester County Clerk is the Clerk for the Supreme Court where foreclosure actions are heard.  The public can visit the Legal Division located at 110 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in White Plains between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays to look up legal records, judgments, liens, lis pendens, and other business records.  For more information on our Legal Division, please call 995-3070 or visit our website at http://www.westchesterclerk.com/.

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 http://www.westchesterclerk.com/ or call us at (914)995-3081.

 

Lost Your Local Tax Assessment Grievance? You Can Appeal through the County Clerk’s Office

Apr. 13, 2009

These are bad economic times.  Tax bills are rising while real estate values have dipped.  Homeowners looking for relief may try to reduce their property tax assessment through the grievance process.  Since it could be a record year for property tax grievances filed with a local Board of Assessment Review, it could also be a record year for rejections by boards.  Rejection by your local Board is not the end of the road.  If you live in a home you own, you can appeal that decision through the Small Claims Assessment Review (SCAR) process.

“With the age of our assessment rolls and property values dropping, many property owners will be reviewing their assessment status and should understand their right to a fair assessment,” stated County Clerk Timothy C. Idoni.  Idoni went on to advise residential property owners to know their options and not to be intimidated by the legal process to have an appeal heard.  These are the steps in the process:

1.  Check with your local tax assessor to learn the date by which your original tax grievance must be filed at the local level.  Then file the grievance and attend your hearing.

2.  If your request is denied or you receive a lower reduction that you are not satisfied with, you can file a Small Claims Assessment Review (SCAR) petition in the Office of the Westchester County Clerk.  Your SCAR petition must be filed within 30 days of the filing of the final assessment rol1 in your community.  Each community may have a different date, so be sure to confirm the date in your municipality.  Late filing will result in your petition for appeal being dismissed.

3.  Review the step-by-step instructions and then complete a SCAR Index Application and Petition, all of which can be found at http://www.westchesterclerk.com/ by choosing Legal Division and then SCAR Petitions from the drop down menu.  You can also pick up these papers in the Office of the County Clerk

4.  If you are filing a SCAR petition by mail, be sure to include a self-addressed stamped envelope and note that cash and credit cards payments will not be accepted by mail.  Petitions should be sent to the Office of the Westchester County Clerk, 110 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Legal Division, White Plains, NY 10601.

5.  Within ten days after filing your SCAR petition with the Clerk, you must mail a copy of your completed and signed petition to the clerk of the School District where the property is located, the Westchester County Commissioner of Finance, and the Assessor or the Board of Assessment in the municipality in which the property is located.

The Office of the Westchester County Clerk is located at 110 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in White Plains and is open between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays.  For questions about the SCAR process, call (914)995-3070 or visit www.westchesterclerk.com.

Translator

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Enter through the courthouse and proceed to the third floor.

Richard J. Daronco Courthouse
111 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
White Plains, NY 10601

Hours: Mon - Fri, 8am - 5pm
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Closed on official holidays.

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