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Fredonia revamps protocol after lengthy meeting

OBSERVER Photo by M.J. Stafford The Fredonia Board of Trustees sits in the office of Mayor Douglas Essek during an approximately 90-minute-long executive session Monday.

The Fredonia Board of Trustees made some changes to the way it does its business during another marathon session Monday night.

The trustees revamped their protocol for creating resolutions and agendas as their meeting rolled past three hours for a third straight session. Also for the third straight time, there was a lengthy executive session at the beginning of the meeting, with spectators left to kill time as trustees debated privately in Mayor Douglas Essek’s office.

The stated reason for the closed session was “employment of a particular person.” Police Chief Phillip Maslak and Fire Chief Ryan Walker were called into the session, but then left after a few minutes.

When the trustees went back into open session, the resolutions revamping proved a key point of discussion. Some trustees, notably Roger Britz, have complained in the past that they do not have enough time to look at proposed resolutions before they are scheduled to vote on them.

Monday’s measure, which passed unanimously, aims to rectify that. Resolutions intended for a Board of Trustees agenda must now be given to the village clerk no later than 1 p.m. on the Monday prior to a meeting, meaning the resolution is supposed to now be on file a full week before it is comes to the floor.

In addition, according to the resolution passed Monday, “complete and final agendas shall be placed in trustee mailboxes and available to the public on both the website and in hard copy no later than noon on the Thursday (or 4 days) prior to said board meeting.”

That portion of the resolution originally gave a deadline of 10 a.m. Thursday for the agendas. But Village Attorney Dan Gard successfully pleaded for two more hours each week to help he and Village Clerk Annemarie Johnston get it all together. The 10 a.m. mark “just seems like it’s shortening the timeline for Annemarie and I to where it will make things more difficult, not easier,” Gard said.

Another part of the resolution states that the village attorney must write the final draft of all resolutions, except for standard resolutions such as those authorizing annual festivals, and resolutions covering employee resignations.

Gard wanted to add language allowing the treasurer to write financially-related resolutions, but Trustee EvaDawn Bashaw objected. “That is not an acceptable change,” she said. “The attorney especially needs to write the financial resolutions for legalistic reasons.”

Gard said he has worked for municipalities for 15 years and “I’ve never prepared financial resolutions for any town, village or city that I’ve worked for. … To draft them from scratch is not reasonable.”

Village Treasurer Jim Sedota said he has regularly written budget transfer requests. “I don’t have that information and I don’t have the ability to get it unless we call an extra meeting,” Gard said.

Bashaw said she understood that Sedota was capable of writing budget transfers, and could continue to do so. “Anything else regarding finances, including grants, I think you should see it and tell us it’s financially sound,” she said to Gard. Due to her objection, the attorney’s proposed change did not make it to the final resolution.

Gard said during the workshop session that he got most of the material in the resolutions-changing resolution from the city of Dunkirk, where he was once the municipal attorney. “I basically took the language that worked there for decades and applied it to the village of Fredonia,” he said.

Just prior to the final vote, Bashaw concluded, “One of the things I never want to hear again is, ‘I’ve never seen this resolution.'”

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