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“Why Do We Have A Redundant Service”?

Filed under: Uncategorized

Why

Village of Lancaster Trustee Russell Sugg raised a simple question at a recent Village of Lancaster meeting, when he asked why do we have a Village Court and a Town Court.

The Town of Lancaster with a population of 41,000 people has two part time town justices that work two days per week handling court cases. The Village of Lancaster consisting of 2.7 square miles and a population of 10,000 residents within the town of Lancaster has their own Court consisting of one judge and a clerk.

As reported in the Buffalo News it is amazing the anger and arguments that get raised when the idea of eliminating or consolidating a government program is raised. The News stated: “Mayor Paul M. Maute, typically reserved at government meetings, grew visibly annoyed with Sugg …. “You can’t jump at this. I didn’t know we were in a hurry”.

At a later meeting, Trustee Dawn Robinson expressed concern about eliminating the Village Court stating “Is Town Court able to perform the same service without village residents losing their identity?” Trustee Kenneth O’Brien stated “Village Court is important to the quality of life that village residents have come to expect.”

Village Court employee Mike Murray went so far as to say that eliminating the village court will result in lost lives as people get lost in the town court system.

Meanwhile the Village Court has lost money the past five years in a row totaling $109,959, with the largest loss of $33,962 occurring in 2013. Sugg has pointed out that having a village court is not a required service, that the village does not need to spend money on this service so why is it doing so?

It is amazing to me how many small villages exist within towns with duplicate services being provided. I applaud Russell Sugg for raising this issue for discussion. Bringing about change in government is not easy.

What do you think about Sugg’s points and the arguments made as to why the village of Lancaster court should not be eliminated?

www.reinventinggov.org

 


  • MaxPlanck

    Great story and insight; this is one of WNY’s economic handicaps. Overlapping and duplicitous jurisdictions and services add a layer of the cost of doing business.The quote about “the quality of life” is sheer provincialism and self-protection in action and a plea for the perpetuation of the status quo.

  • Chris

    The purpose of government is to provide service – I think we all agree on that. The question of what services “should” be provided and at what level of government is an important one. If government is too far removed, the service becomes impersonal and the redress for lack of service is more difficult to achieve. If government is close, as it is in a village setting where easy access to the elected leaders is possible, then service can be better, while it is often more costly. This is what village residents need to weigh when deciding what services are important to identity and what services to eliminate. What do I get and how much more does it cost me is the first question? Does it truly contribute to creating an identity and sense of place where I live is the second? Both are equally important. What was gained and lost in Lancaster when the police departments were merged? How much did it cost or save? What was the loss of identity? It is some similar questions for merging the town and village court. What happens to village laws, will they be enforced by the town? What happens to the revenue from tickets issued in the village? It is never a problem to ask the question, but I would certainly suggest Paul that the complexity of a merger needs to be accounted for and like most other media outlets you did not even begin to scratch the service of what it would take to merge the courts. If you want to do an in-depth come back to the Village of Williamsville and we will talk about what went into merging the Village Water system with Erie County, the costs associated, the short and long term liabilities and benefits. There is much more too it than suggesting that someone should, “just ask the question.” That being said, I am glad you asked the question 🙂 Chris Duquin – Trustee Village of Williamsville

  • Lamont Cranston

    I’m more worried about Mike Murray’s comment. Exactly how many people has the Town Court killed by bureaucratic neglect?