Fredonia budget work begins

The village of Fredonia held its first budget workshop of the year, and the first item on the table was the wastewater treatment plant budget.

Plant Chief Operator Betsy Sly presented the proposed budget to a handful of trustees Tuesday evening. Village Administrator Rick St. George said Mayor Stephen Keefe has met with Sly and is preparing his own budget proposals for the plant. Meanwhile, the three trustees present, Joseph Cerrie, Janel Subjack and Marc Ruckman, went over the budget line by line with Sly and Department of Public Works Supervisor Jack Boland.

In its current form, the treatment plant budget outlines about $2.2 million in revenues and $2.6 in expenses, but it will undergo several revisions before the budget is finalized.

A decline in production at Carriage House accounted for a loss of expected revenue in sewer charges. The total decline projected is $58,000, but Cerrie noted the decrease might be more substantial if production ceases.

Several projects were put forward by Sly. She said a bar screen, used to filter bags and other debris, is in need of replacement. She said workers have attempted to repair it over the years but parts are “being bolted onto rust at this point.” The cost of replacement is expected to be about $390,000.

Rehabilitation of a second waste digester was also on her list of upgrades, but at a cost of $1.1 million, the request received scrutiny. She said the single digester in use means the plant is running at half capacity, and the improvements could yield gas which could be used to offset energy costs. She also said by operating at a greater capacity, the plant could increase revenue by accepting waste from large institutions such as jails. Cerrie asked if the long-term costs savings would be enough to offset the initial price tag, and questioned whether it would be feasible to have waste from other facilities brought in. Sly said she was researching those avenues.

Sly said another project to replace a blower at $300,000 would increase efficiency and save energy costs. St. George noted some of the upgrades may be implemented too late in the year to offset costs in the 2013 budget after the bidding process ends and engineers develop plans before breaking ground.

On the list of projects, Cerrie asked Sly, “Do you have a time line?” and asked her to prioritize the projects before the next time the board meets with her to work through the budget.

Cerrie also asked Sly to make cuts. “Can you get me $30,000?” Sly quickly replied, “Yes.”

“Well, get me $50,000,” Cerrie said.

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