LAS VEGAS – It’s not often that credit unions and banks end up doling out `handouts’ or charity for the state, but out of self interest a group of 30 institutions-led by one Las Vegas credit union-have come up with a $100,000 bailout plan which solves a computer foul up over auto titles. The auto title crisis, traced to problems with a new state computer system, has been brewing for more than a year following a court ruling over odometer fraud that forced the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles to revamp its filing procedures for obtaining auto titles. However, the end result for the state-and for lenders-was a paper-driven format which skyrocketed the cost and the time it took financial institutions and car dealers to file forms with the department. “The cost for Clark County Credit Union to process thousands of automobile titles jumped from $60 to nearly $3,000 a year,” lamented the creator of the bailout plan, Randy V. Baldwin, vice president of sales at the $280 million Las Vegas CU. In leading the bailout plan-as well as spearheading passage of a new Nevada law last month allowing Internet and electronic submission of title and registration documents-Baldwin said he first became interested in the problem in April 2000. That’s when the DMV began rejecting the CU’s title paperwork on new loans and forcing manual completion of three-part, type-written documents. “I knew the manual mode would add lots of man-time hours to our workday because of the high volumes of titles we process,” said Baldwin who immediately began conferring with other CUs and banks which faced similar problems because of the court ruling. Meanwhile, the DMV and the state’s Democratic governor, Kenny Gwinn, were being pilloried in the press because of the DMV computer mess triggering long hours spent by the public as drivers waited in line to obtain titles. It was typical for car owners to spend five or six hours at a time visiting a DMV branch. For CUs and banks “tens of thousands of titles are processed each month and the paper intensive process would have dramatically impacted the operations of any institution that does car loans,” said Baldwin. After consulting with department officials and the Nevada/California Credit Union Leagues, Baldwin said he realized that new laws would have to be enacted to get rid of the bottlenecks and to update the system. But he was told the DMV did not have the funds to handle the problem. “They expected it would take two to three years to do the research and put together a proposal for additional funds and get it approved,” said Baldwin who immediately set to work in organizing the $100,000, pegged as the cost of implementation of a new system. Baldwin said he called “every credit union with $20 million in assets and every bank in Las Vegas to solicit participation in the funding.” He also went after dealers who supported the project but were less interested in donating the funds. “The auto dealers are more difficult than I had anticipated,” confided Baldwin. Originally, he received “formal” commitments from 19 CUs, banks and car dealers and about a dozen “informal” commitments from the remainder. So far Baldwin’s campaign has raised $60,000 but “I’m not sure we’ll get to the $100,000.” Nonetheless, “whatever we raise will go toward programming support; to develop the interface between DMV’s system” and electronic title services. The state agency, said Baldwin, “is very excited” about the project, “and even if we fall short of the $100,000 they will proceed” and thus “it is a huge benefit to the state.” In getting the banks, CUs, and car dealers together, Baldwin organized “e-mail groups” to foster communication and he researched laws in other states that were already using electronic title systems. He also researched lists of potential electronic vendor lists. “Randy was certainly the point man on this project since he’s the guy who went knocking on doors to collect the money,” said Anthony Mook, CEO of Cumorah Credit Union in Las Vegas, who praised Baldwin for taking the lead. The final outcome, said Mook, will reduce costs for CUs and solve a thorny political problem for the state. Mook is a member of the Nevada Credit Union Advisory Council, a unit appointed by the governor. The new enabling DMV Electronic Registration Titling law was signed by Gov. Guinn on June 13 and took effect July 1. The new law allows the state agency “to establish a program for electronic storage of documents, so financial institutions will no longer need to store vehicle titles.”

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