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Control officer nears Fredonia deal

Denise Zentz, already the dog control officer for both the town and the city of Dunkirk, is adding Fredonia to her duties. However, it’s unclear how long she will do it and how much money she will make for it.

The Fredonia Board of Trustees agreed to hire Zentz, a retired Dunkirk city police officer, for six months at $2,400 at its July 14 meeting. They initially sought to hire her for a year at $4,800. The trustees made a change at the last second, after discovering there was just $3,000 in the budget for the dog control officer position.

In a brief interview Tuesday, Zentz did not say she had accepted the board’s offer, characterizing her contract with the village as “in negotiations.” She emphasized that she is Fredonia’s acting dog control officer, and village residents with dog concerns should go to her.

At the July 14 meeting, Mayor Doug Essek sounded exasperated that the board would try and do a contract with someone for more money than was approved for their position.

“That money has been appropriated, the only money that has been appropriated and approved is $3,000 and this contract is for $4,800,” he said, in a response to a statement from Trustee EvaDawn Bashaw that the remaining $1,800 could come from contingency funds. “We cannot enter into a contract without the monies being appropriated for it.”

Trustees discussed doing a budget transfer but ultimately decided against it, instead opting to change the length of her term of service.

“Unfortunately, the person we had in place quit the position because of the way he was handled,” said Trustee Jim Lynden, referring to Josh Cybart, who resigned July 6, then blasted village officials at the next trustees’ meeting for his alleged bad treatment.

“Well, I think there’s a lot more to that and we can go into executive session if you would like to discuss it,” Bashaw replied. Lynden declined.

Bashaw suggested amending the contract to six months.

Essek and Lynden said there was no indication that Zentz would want to do a six-month deal instead of the year that was in the original resolution. Bashaw didn’t see a problem with that, noting that Zentz had already agreed to a deal, and the board could amend it as they wished.

“I don’t want to go without a dog control officer during the summer months,” Trustee Roger Britz said, adding that a fund transfer for the other six months can be approved at a later date, if the board desires. Trustee Scott Johnston agreed.

Bashaw said the board originally wanted to pay Zentz on a per-dog basis, but changed their minds and wanted to pay her a stipend. She said Zentz then countered with a higher number than the board offered. These, apparently, accounted for some of the confusion over what was budgeted for the position.

Lynden voted against the resolution to approve Zentz’s amended contract, but was outvoted by Bashaw, Britz and Johnston.

However, with Zentz’s statements Tuesday, it appears even the amended deal is far from a sure thing.

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