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Fredonia: Trustees get thrown to fire

It appears to be a baptism by fire for relatively new Fredonia Trustees Heidi Powell and Scott Johnston. Their welcome to representation — through appointments by the Village Board — includes taking on a proposed budget that includes a more than 17% tax increase.

For now, veteran Trustee James Lynden is the most outspoken against the plan announced last week by Mayor Douglas Essek. “I find his proposal to be misguided when compared to the trustee’s approved budget of just a year ago that had healthy fund balance, no tax increase and then had the general water and sewer funds all operating at a gain,” he said during his report at the meeting. “The mayor is by law the budget officer. He is responsible for proposing a budget and although he has no vote on that matter he is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the adopted budget in cooperation with the treasurer and department heads.”

Work on the plan, however, now moves to the five trustees, including the two with no experience. What could be worse was the budget that was approved last April in the heart of a pandemic was not a solid plan. It barely passed, 3-2, as Trustees Roger Britz and the late Roger Pacos had questions.

But all-knowing village Trustee EvaDawn Bashaw — who does not return calls by the media or residents — dismissed the questions. “I find it unfortunate that we’ve had this budget since March 20 and we wait until this date to bring up these concerns,” she said before last year’s vote. “We’ve initiated the thought that this is chaos, and this is not chaos.”

Trust us, a 17% proposed tax hike is “chaos.”

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