Fredonia: Vision of services, not the future

Though Fredonia Mayor Stephen Keefe believes the purpose of village government is to provide safety and security, there were those in the audience who politely disagreed.

Keefe made his remarks last week during his State of the Village report to the Fredonia Rotary Club at the White Inn, detailing the $9.6 million budget for a village that is closer in population to 7,000 than the 11,000 that gets reported to the U.S. Census thanks to the vibrant state university. But other than telling Rotarians and guests what the village already does, there was a lack of vision in terms of the future.

Keefe’s message was very different than the State of the State address when Gov. Andrew Cuomo talked about initiatives – many this corner did not agree with – such as educational proposals, minimum wage hikes and plans for the Adirondacks.

Last week, Keefe offered little if any detail looking toward the future of the village. Instead there was a lot of praise for the current system, which to many often seems lazy and outdated. Some of that defense included the 81 positions that are currently working in village government.

“The personnel that we have is not an excessive number for personnel for the services you’re receiving,” Keefe told the audience.

Taxpayer-funded services, though, are not the answer in struggling economies. What really matters are private-sector and business investments – those that have been lacking for a number of years in this region.

So as area leaders continue to tout services as a priority, Rotary members sitting at tables remarked about what they would like to see now and in the future: more jobs for this region. Unfortunately, there is no answer for that as long as the scales of our economy continue to tip in favor of public-sector service.