Fredonia must control spending

Two weeks ago, the OBSERVER issued a special report on what villages pay their employees in Chautauqua County. There’s 15 villages in the county. Out of 15 villages, Fredonia has 22 of the top highest 25 paid employees.

Let’s say that again. Fredonia pays its employees more than other villages pay their employees 22 out of 25 times. Why is that? Well, in all fairness, Fredonia has a larger police force than other villages and is the only village with paid firefighters. But what about everyone else? Is Fredonia’s crime rate so high, that its village street officers should be making more than other villages’ police chiefs?

The Lakewood-Busti Police Department covers a population of 7,351 people. Fredonia’s population, which technically includes SUNY Fredonia, is 11,194 people. Take away the college students and it’s difficult to say Fredonia is any bigger than the town of Busti. And keep in mind, Fredonia State has its own police force. It’s not as though Fredonia Police needs to go to campus to keep things in order. Yet two Fredonia officers make more than Lakewood-Busti’s police chief.

There are other high salary positions as well. The village administrator makes $78,000 annually. Department of Public Works employees are making $60,000+.

Do you think if you did an analysis of Fredonia teacher salaries, compared to the salaries of Chautauqua Lake, Maple Grove, Cassadaga Valley, Westfield Academy and Brocton Central schools, Fredonia would have 22 of the top 25 highest paid teachers in the county?

And isn’t it interesting that a day after our story was published, CSEA Fredonia United 6313 of Local 807, which covers street department employees, clerks, dispatchers, water and sewer employees, was able to settle its contract. Maybe the fact that people could see for themselves how much Fredonia pays its employees from everyone else inspired them to settle this contract.

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Apparently some villages still feel attorney Michael Bolender is still worth his high salary, although we don’t know why.

In 2009, Bolender was the second-highest paid employee in all of Upstate New York. That year he earned $294,979 by serving as the attorney for the towns of Carroll and Ripley, and the villages of Cherry Creek, Mayville, Sherman and Forestville. If you added up his pay for what he made in 2012 from just Cherry Creek and Forestville, he’d be the highest paid village employee in Chautauqua County.

And this is for a part-time employee.