At a special meeting this morning called hastily by the Fredonia Village Board of Trustees, it was announced an unexpected purchase of water from the City of Dunkirk is necesary - to the tune of $99,000.
The board learned the water plant had been purchasing large amounts of water on behalf of the village about two weeks ago, and has been holding lengthy, closed-door executive sessions before and after board meetings during that time.
When asked about rumors over the summer about large purchases being made which prompted calls to board members by OBSERVER staff, Trustee Joseph Cerrie said he told the OBSERVER what he had been told by Rob Lancaster, supervisor at the filtration plant: no unusual purchases were being made other than to cover incidentals such as water main breaks like one which occurred on Newton Street at that time, and a leak discovered at the college which resulted in an unusal purchase.
"Lack of communication" was cited as a reason for the surprise, but Mayor Stephen Keefe added, "This meeting is premature. ... We're still investigating. ... I'm not sure all of my questions have been answered yet."
Lancaster has been at the plant for 35 years and has submitted his resignation, effective Dec. 29.
In a statement, Keefe said, "The water plant supervisor is working on a a comprehensive plan to avoid similar situations in the future. He does realize that clear, honest communication with the village administrator and the board of trustees is of paramount importance."
The board passed a resolution to take $95,000 out of reserves to cover the unexpected expense.
"This is a tragic situation for the village administrator and elected officials after the difficult budgetary process in which necessary items were put on hold to ensure a very frugal budget," Keefe said. "This kind of expenditure, without prior knowledge, is unacceptable."