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Trustees trying to cut $1.5 million from Fredonia budget

FREDONIA – Trustees continued to try to carve $1.5 million out of the village of Fredonia budget.

At a special meeting Monday, the trustees worked on reducing the Water Department budget. Their proposal will be to increase water rates by 65 cents for each 1,000 gallons. Mayor Steve Keefe proposed an additional $1.30. The current rate is $3.01 for each 1,000 gallons.

Each 10 cents in water rate increase means about $21,000 in revenue for the water budget. The projected deficit is $317,807. A total of $1.55 per 1,000 gallons would be needed to cover the entire amount required to balance the budget.

“This is all due to revenues lost by Carriage House,” said Village Clerk Richard St. George. He said that the food production company provided about 30 percent to 40 percent of the revenues in the water treatment account. The company was purchased by ConAgra and is slated for closure sometime this summer.

In addition to lost revenues from the water and sewer accounts, the village also anticipates losing tax revenue from the plant’s closure. The total losses for the coming year are expected to be $1.5 million when the plant shuts down. Additionally, about 400 local residents will lose their jobs when the doors are locked.

The group came to the decision to reduce several expenses, including reconstruction of the road leading to the water treatment plant. The estimated cost for repairs was $45,000.

The village budget starts July 1. A formal budget has to be passed by May 1. The mayor’s proposal looked at an increase of 95 cents on the tax rate and $1.30 on the water as well as $1 on the sewer rate.

“I just could not live with those increases,” said Trustee Janelle Subjack. She and the other trustees reduced some accounts by a few hundred dollars and also looked at ways to finance other long-term projects.

St. George said the village will probably have to face $4 million to $5 million in financing for work at the reservoir and dam. “Luckily we have no significant fiscal stress,” he said. St. George said that the village has had an excellent bond rating due to fund balances and good fiscal practices.

The weekly budget slicing sessions will continue next week as the trustees come to a final decision on the budget.