Fredonia: Budget pains not going away

Give village of Fredonia officials credit. In finalizing the 2014-15 budget, trustees whittled away more than $1.1 million from Mayor Stephen Keefe’s proposed $10.7 million plan.

Keefe’s plan, however, had been announced only days before the devastating news of the impending closing of the Carriage House facility and the loss of more than 400 jobs. As was the case with Carriage House, the village reductions included some unfortunate decisions that included the elimination of positions.

At least a pair of those positions had been questionable from the start. The addition of two Department of Public Works employees in 2013 was a comedy of errors. When board members questioned the proposed hiring, the DPW chief did not know the numbers of how many employees currently worked in his department. He also could not pinpoint exactly to board members what these workers would be doing in their positions.

Instead of being skeptical, board members approved the hirings. Fifteen months later, those positions are eliminated. Also out of the budget are the seasonal work and part-time help.

Remember, in the first proposed budget, the village had 141 workers for 2014-15. That number has since decreased.

What will not be decreasing are village taxes, and water and sewer rates. In recent weeks, Pomfret’s board has heard comments from village and town residents who want the two entities cooperating more in the future. Those residents probably are compelled to speak out in Pomfret because they believe those officials are actually sympathetic to what is being said, rather than in Fredonia where a majority of the trustees would rather dictate.

After March’s devastating news – and a more than 10 percent cut of a proposed budget – the clock is ticking. If the village of Fredonia continues to go at it alone, there will be two choices in the future: further, painful cuts. Or, we could be looking at another Forestville – on a lesser scale – with much higher taxes, as well as water and sewer rates.

It is not a pretty picture.