FREDONIA County input adds urgency

Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel provided some excellent insight into the consistent water problems that have plagued the village of Fredonia and its users. In speaking to the board earlier this month, he highlighted an issue with the fund that has been overlooked.

Revenues that came in for the line were supposed to be help maintain the asset. That, unfortunately, has not been the case.

“The money came in, but it never got invested back into the system,” Wendel said. “That’s why you see the deficiencies we have here.”

Even in the current village budget for 2023-24, the water fund is showing a loss of $400,000 — even after a rate increase for users. Termed a “fragile” plant by the county Health Department, this cash crunch shows there is absolutely no room here for any investment in the failing facility.

It also leads to larger questions.

When Carriage House operated within the village, it was by far the largest user of water. Once the operation left in the spring of 2015, that large cushion of cash went away. There was even some thought some of those surplus funds were being used to cover other areas of the village budget. Knowing how government works, that shift was possible.

One thing, however, is certain when it comes to village water. Its reputation has been soiled.

Population in Fredonia in 2010, was 11,233. The most recent numbers show 9,809 — a 12.6% loss. Reliable water is a quality-of-life issue.

Chautauqua County and Wendel did the appropriate thing by getting involved to add some urgency. A problem that has been more than 25 years in the making will not get better unless tough decisions are made.

Those are often not easy to come by with local government leaders at the helm.


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