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‘Weird time’ faces Fredonia, leaders

Fredonia Mayor Doug Essek, left, is pictured with Trustee Roger Britz.

“It’s a challenge right now with just three trustees.”

That’s how Fredonia Trustee Roger Britz described the current situation in the village.

The board is currently down two trustees, a lawyer and the mayor, and according to Britz, they are managing OK while all these new changes are sorted out.

“The new trustee (Heidi Powell) who was appointed has not gotten up to speed yet in what’s going on in the village,” Britz said, “and with Doug (Essek, mayor) being out of service, we haven’t had a structured meeting yet with all the things that need to be addressed and need to keep the business of the village moving forward. Right now it’s three trustees running the village.”

Essek has been out recently as he’s suffering from COVID-19 complications. The other trustees include EvaDawn Bashaw and James Lynden. One seat remains vacant after the resignation of Kara Christina in December.

“The trustees run the village and really the mayor is nothing more than a figurehead that takes direction from the trustees,” Britz explained. “The trustees are assigned to a committee. Each committee consists of all the departments in the village — that’s where most of the management comes from.”

Britz said normally a village administrator would handle the day-to-day operations, but that position was eliminated by the previous administration.

“The former mayor decided that wasn’t good enough and she basically wanted to run and manage the village and make the day-to-day decisions based on the trustees desires,” Britz said. “Unfortunately, we’re in a situation now that with three trustees on board and an incapacitated mayor.

“It’s very difficult for the three trustees to manage the village by being who we are. We’re not full-time politicians, we have businesses, we have lives and our government was set up basically for that reason. Right now, however, there is a certain trustee on the board who really doesn’t know his role as a trustee. He feels that his job is basically to pass resolutions to keep us financially solvent, but then again can’t make decisions without someone telling him what to do.”

Britz said the biggest problem plaguing the board is that trustees need to know and understand their role.

“The problem that we have right now is the role of the trustee needs to be addressed to all the trustees so that they know their role in our village government,” Britz said. “We don’t have a lot of pressing issues, just a few grants and some bond issues that are out there and we have some projects out there going on in the water plant and the wastewater plant. That’s the job of the trustees to monitor the finances of our village. We’re in a weird time, it’s very difficult to make decisions right now because we are a three member board until the new trustee is officially sworn in; we’re at kind of a Mexican standoff.”

When asked about the loss of their legal representation, Britz shared that the board is currently handling that issue.

“We’re in the process of interviewing,” he said. “The board has come to a conclusion of how we’re going to move forward with our legal representation. We’re looking at different options, possibly going with a firm rather than an individual. I personally feel that going with a firm to represent the village would be more advantageous and cost effective. It’s more specific when we need direction.”

Britz was OK with where things stand in the village at the moment. He said the department heads are doing a good job managing and running their departments and he doesn’t see any major issues right now.

“Our office staff are all doing a fantastic job,” he said. “Until the mayor gets back on his feet and we’re back to a full board I think we are doing quite well actually.”

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