There was one small but significant fact missing from a Buffalo News article last week reporting that "Erie County ended 2012 with a $4.2 million surplus, despite dire midyear warnings from County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz that the county could be confronted with a multi-million budget hole."
In fact, half that surplus money came from one office.
Erie County Comptroller Stefan Michajliw reported that County Clerk Chris Jacobs created "a surplus within his department of approximately $2,179,241. That represents roughly 50 percent of the county's entire operating surplus."
"We were proud to report our over $2 million dollar surplus several months ago but the fact that we contributed such a large percentage to the County's overall surplus is quite significant," said Jacobs.
The Clerk's Office represents only four percent of the County's work force but still came up with half of the 2012 surplus. Of course, Jacobs presides over a rare revenue-generating government operation so he's expected to rake in the dough. But owning half the County surplus is a remarkable feat, especially considering the mess he inherited.
When Jacobs came into office there were major problems in the Land Records Division. Months of unopened mail, un-deposited checks and unreturned legal documents were featured prominently in local news coverage. In response, Jacobs created a "Re-Engineering Working Group" which came up with dozens of reforms to improve efficiency and customer service.
A year later, the Clerk's office is transformed. Jacobs continues to roll out initiatives that speed service to taxpayers and cut costs. And in a recent Albany snafu over enforcing the new NY SAFE Act, Jacobs honestly, forthrightly and successfully deflected the finger pointing of the State Police. (That's no small feat.) Erie County residents are starting to realize they elected a smart and tough leader in Jacobs.
"We will continue to make this office a model of government operations," Jacobs said. "We believe that reforms we have implemented in the Clerk's Office are a major reason for this surplus. Efficiencies that drive revenue ultimately benefit the taxpayer."