Fredonia trustees cut police and more

Cuts are being seen across the board in the village of Fredonia’s 2014-15 budget draft, and the police department is no exception.

The Fredonia Village Board decided it will eliminate two part-time positions at the police department for the next fiscal year.

While the cuts were not specifically proposed during Monday’s budget session, the idea likely surfaced recently during one of the many executive sessions dealing with personnel, which have been plentiful the past few weeks.

“On the personnel side, what we did was we took out 2,000 hours part-time,” Village Administrator Richard St. George explained. “That’s the equivalent of two part-timers, about $24,000.”

Trustee Susan Mackay thought that still was not enough sliced from the police budget, which as of now stands at $1,376,940, down $24,713 from the current fiscal year.

“Is there any will to discuss reducing the police?” she asked. The other trustees obliged by taking $6,000 out of the overtime line, among other more minor cuts. An executive session was subsequently held on fire and police personnel.

Mayor Stephen Keefe’s proposed budget, released prior to Carriage House’s announced closure, budgeted six part-time police officers.

Among other cuts made Monday, Keefe agreed to a salary cut of $1,000, bringing it to $11,000. Mackay brought up an idea discussed previously of docking the trustees’ pay through volunteer deductions, which she said she believed should not be up to each trustee. Each receives a stipend of $5,000.

If the trustees are not cutting their salary permanently, then some cuts, such as in the cable television budget area, should not be made, Mackay argued.

“If you’re going to go down to ($3,000 in the cable TV contractual line for) televising just board meetings, I’m going to say do away with the whole thing, and I don’t think you want to do that,” Mackay protested when Trustee Joseph Cerrie proposed cutting that line another $1,000. “People want to see those things, like the football games and parades and promotional stuff. We’ve already cut that line ($1,000), and if (the videographer quits), then there goes the cable board with him, and you’re not going to get anybody else to do that.”

“Everyone is sacrificing,” Cerrie replied. “I understand (the videographer) might have to do a little bit less, but everyone is being cut.”

A final decision was not made on the cable TV contractual line.

The budget draft currently stands at a projected loss in the general fund of $263,226, which is down from the $933,282 loss the trustees initially faced.

Cerrie remarked he expects the final draft of the budget to stay under the state-mandated tax cap. Before $15,000 in cuts was made Monday, he said the proposed tax rate increase sat at 71 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value, or $58,491.

As of now, almost all significant portions of the general fund are down from where they stand this current year. This includes the village court at $80,660 (down about $20,000 from the current year), the streets department-maintenance at $219,963 (down $34,000, mainly due to a personnel reduction of $29,000 to a new line total of $87,563) and the zoning department at $136,000 (down $21,226, mainly due to a transition from a full-time department head to part-time); all three have seen the most cuts over the current year when compared with other general fund areas.

Fire protection is seeing an increase of about $26,500 due to overtime, while snow removal is looking at an increase of about $23,000 due to the depletion of salt during the harsh winter.

“If we look at the actual cost of salt this past winter and you add in all the salt booked ahead of time, we spent about $57,000,” Streets Supervisor Jack Boland said. “That’s almost 1,200 tons.”

The board will hold its final budget session Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the mayor’s office at Village Hall. A special meeting will be held April 24 at noon to adopt the budget’s final draft.

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