News flash: government is ‘hostile’

Thursday’s phrase of the day in Fredonia was “hostile work environment.” That is how outgoing village administrator Richard St. George, at right, characterized the setting in the offices at Church and Temple streets.

To understand how true that statement is, village residents need to start asking some serious questions about themselves and where they live. It begins with the small stuff, such as brush and leaf pickup by the streets department. Many complain about those minor issues to officials at Village Hall.

Is that hostile? It can be.

How about the ever-increasing water and sewer rates that users pay because ConAgra exited the municipality and former village officials were not ready to be a part of the North County Water District? Is that hostile for residents — or those in charge of taking payments? It is a little bit of both.

What about concerns over the poor street conditions or torn-up roads that take weeks to pave? Is that hostile toward taxpayers or the streets department?

The point is this: no working environment comes without demands. When you are hired to oversee a village of 7,000 residents — not counting the university — while collecting a six-figure compensation package, there’s going to be pressure. Heck, there will be stress at times working in an eatery, collecting garbage or any other job for a lot less pay.

St. George claims he has become a victim of the current administration. We do not have enough information to know if it that is the case. But we do know a lot of Fredonia residents are demanding more from the village than what it may be capable of delivering due to a fiscal crunch and a decaying infrastructure.

Whose fault — and problem — is that?

This newspaper for five years has done an annual report card on municipalities. It is no surprise to this corner the village, which usually receives a “D” grade, is in crisis.

It has been poorly managed for years by a silent administrator and smarmy trustees from the past — including one who left town after helping pass a contentious budget and another who got in trouble with the law — for far too long.

Many villagers, however, ignored the harsh reality. It was Fredonia, after all. They thought everything would turn out just right.

Now, however, it has become more chaotic. Moving forward, tough decisions must be made that include:

≤ Considering tighter partnerships with the town of Pomfret.

≤ Consolidating a police facility with the city of Dunkirk.

≤ Being a part of the water district and accepting the terms of the north county board.

Fredonia was once able to stand on its own — and get away with it. At this stage, however, the dysfunction that spans a decade may be too great to find willing municipal partners.

Let us hope it is not too late.

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