County Clerks Want State Aid for SAFE Act Costs

11:51 PM, Apr 3, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY - Atter signing the SAFE ACT in January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there would be no cost to local counties for implementing the new law. 

But, some county clerks are now taking action after they say its created a massive backlog of paperwork and filing.

Most county clerk offices in Western New York tell us that they're getting piles and piles of pistol permit opt-out forms. The documents are being signed by gun owners, so they can keep their personal information private.

But, all this comes with a cost.

There are 60,000 people in Erie County with a pistol permit. About 20,000 of them have opted out.

Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs says his department has spent more than $5,000 in overtime for employees to file the forms. He says there are other costs too from reassigning staff members to paying for office supplies, but staff haven't even had the time to calculate it all.

"We're up nearly double in terms of the amount of transactions this year compared to last and it's largely because of the passage of the SAFE Act," said Jacobs.

So, some counties want the state to start covering the costs or reimbursing clerk offices for all the extra work.

"In talking with almost every clerk, they're all in agreement that this is going to burden local government and it should not be because it was a state law, it was a passed state law, and if you pass a state law, you gotta attach some money to it," said Jacobs, who says he's joined with other clerks statewide to recommend through the State Clerk Association for lawmakers to allow the offices to be reimbursed for SAFE Act costs.

Don Read the Genesee County clerk said, "I think some of the clerks are so beside themselves with what it is costing their office, that they have just decided to go ahead, approach it from a single county aspect."

All counties in our area say they're getting thousands of opt out forms. To give you an idea, Niagara County has 28,000 pistol permit holders. Chautauqua County has 23,000 people with permits. Both counties say they haven't made a request. Cattaraugus and Wyoming say they have no plans to file a request either. However, Alleghany and Genesee counties are considering a state reimbursement request. Orleans County has not returned our calls on its decision to ask for reimbursement funds.

Jacobs says his office has been told by the Governor's office that there's no timetable to getting opt forms done.

The problem with this, according to Jacobs, is it creates a backlog in doing other business like issuing permits.

Pistol permit holders have until May 15th to opt out.

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