No foresight leads to gap

There is no better time than in a crisis to start doing something immediately that you could have been doing for the last 10 years.

But Fredonia village officials never worried about the “what ifs” or consequences to any of their actions that led to higher village taxes, water rates and sewer rates. Instead, they always turned a blind eye to the private sector, especially big business.

If there was money set aside in an annual village budget, trustees would spend that money. If there were positions open, the village would fill positions. If department heads complained they were shortstaffed, they would find part-time or seasonal help.

Today, 10 years too late, the village has decided it now wants to be more fiscally responsible due to a pending $1.5 million budget gap for 2014-15.

“It’s inevitable, there’s going to be cuts across the board from everyone,” said Trustee Joe Cerrie last week. “That’s what we’re elected to do, to make the hard choices; and we’re going to make those choices. What we initially came into this budget knowing, that’s now changed.”

Cerrie, it must be noted, is one of the major reasons for the out-of- control and reckless village expenses. Just look at his spending record. In his more than 10 years as trustee, he has approved almost everything that costs the village and its taxpayers money.

It was even worse under previous administrations. When former Mayor Michael Sullivan proposed budgets and tax reductions, Cerrie would craft a plan to spend more and increase tax rates.

Now he wants to cut?

Sorry, too late. The damage has been done.

Not only is Cerrie’s newfound fiscally responsible attitude unfair to taxpayers, it also is unfair to village employees, some who have been hired in recent years and may be out of jobs due to years of unsustainable spending.

And Cerrie is not the only one to blame. Nearly every current village trustee has backed previous budgets, which are severely out of whack now that the big business that accounts for a huge chunk of property taxes, water and sewer revenues is leaving. The only one who seems to question anything on the board is Marc Ruckman, whose concerns are almost always dismissed.

It is a herd mentality.

Today, there is a $1.5 million budget gap. Village residents, no matter how well-off the elected trustees believe they may be, cannot pick up that slack.