There are so many disturbing aspects of this article about the state's plan to transfer the duty of keeping track of births and deaths from the towns and cities, I'm not sure where to begin. Let's try with the overall resistance to consolidation that once again has reared its ugly head. The entire world is in economic crisis and learning to do more with less, except, once again, our public sector.
Historically town and city registrars have kept track of vital statistics, including copies of death and birth certificates, for which they charge $10 per copy. A state commission on government efficiency has recommended shifting those chores to county clerks’ offices and raising the fee to $30 per copy to pay for it. County Clerk Wayne Jagow stated, “At first glance, this looks like a good consolidating move,” Jagow told the Community Services Committee. “But I’m afraid it would have some negative impact on the towns and on the county and constituents.”
It's just a completely absurd response. Every consolidation effort will affect someone, likely in a less than pleasing way; that's the nature of consolidation. But the long-term benefit, savings to the taxpayer, is the goal. How Jagow is unable to see the forest through the trees is beyond me.
Dennis Virtuoso had a similarly ridiculous justification for not supporting the consolidation effort: “This would be a tremendous...inconvenience for the taxpayers who would have to drive halfway across the county.” Really? People have such a frequent need to get copies of death and birth certificates that it would be a tremendous inconvenience? That is the mentality of a small-minded, regressive thinker.
As we've said before, we have huge consolidation opportunities staring us right in the face. There are three family courts in Niagara County. Why? If you live in Erie County, which is more than double the size of Niagara, you have one family court, and its in downtown Buffalo. We have four water filtration facilities in Niagara, all of which operate at less than 50% capacity. And three DMVs in a county the size of Niagara is completely idiotic. The average person goes to the DMV once every EIGHT years. How the hell is that a hardship?
Consolidation of these redundant operations would save the taxpayers of this county millions of dollars every year. Unfortunately, the parochialism that is so pervasive in this area will continue until someone who's not worried about his or her re-election has the courage to bring these consolidation efforts forward.
Don't hold your breath.