OBSERVER Photo by M.J. Stafford
City Clerk Edwin Ramos makes a point during a Dunkirk Common Council 2024 budget meeting Tuesday. He’s flanked by Councilwoman Natalie Luczkowiak and Councilman-at-large David Damico.
Dunkirk City Clerk Edwin Ramos wants to hire scanners of records and do a modernized computer interface. The cost: About $20,000.
Ramos tried to tout the savings that would come in the deal, at a Common Council budget hearing Tuesday. Council members — along with the apparent mayor-elect, Kate Wdowiasz — sounded skeptical.
“You didn’t miss anything. I need money,” Ramos said to Councilman Marty Bamonto, who was two or three minutes late for the start of the meeting.
Ramos wants to put Dunkirk’s vital records online. He complained Tuesday that currently, his office must go to the City Hall vault “to find old archive records that are actually falling apart.”
Putting records online “would make it so much easier for my staff,” he said.
The city would save $9,000 a year by going to online records, Ramos asserted. In fact, he would likely no longer need the services of a part-time employee who works at two other city departments, he said.
Ramos added that he thinks the move could “easily” qualify for grant funding.
One company would scan the records and another would set up the platform for viewing them, under Ramos’ plan. Councilwoman Nancy Nichols asked if records would have to leave City Hall for scanning. Ramos said they would, but added the company would work with his office to find a record if it was away for scanning.
He added his plan would be “only doing part of what any comprehensive system (covering all city departments) would do.”
Ramos tossed out several dollar figures but the key one seemed to be the $20,000 it would cost the city for the work. He said the city would save money on the deal over the long term.
Wdowiasz said it would be “miniscule” and then added, “I don’t know if there’s actual savings.” She was attending as a spectator; she has gone to most city meetings in recent months on her own time as she campaigned for the mayoral post.
Wdowiasz never said much in the previous meetings — but was notably more outspoken Tuesday. She holds a 57-vote edge over David Damico (who chaired Tuesday’s meeting as councilman-at-large) in the mayoral race, with about 134 absentee ballots reportedly still out. Assuming 134 ballots, Damico would need to outvote Wdowiasz, 96 to 38, on them to win the race.
Ramos quickly left the meeting room after his presentation. Wdowiasz said after he left, “We need a comprehensive program that works throughout City Hall, not just departmentally” when it comes to records.
She said Ramos’ plan would cost city residents too much. However, she said she was aware of a proposal to do a comprehensive records interface for all city departments that would only cost $15,000.
Poring over the clerk’s office budget lines, Nichols commented that Ramos always seems to get the highest-quality paper, where other city departments do not. She eyed that as a place to make a cut.