This past Sunday marked the beginning of the village of Fredonia's 2014-15 fiscal year - as well as an increase in its water and sewer rents.
The Fredonia Village Board, during a recent special meeting, approved a $10 jump in the minimum sewer charge per quarter (changing it to $20), a dollar hike in the current sewer rate per thousand gallons (making it $4.15) and a 10-cent bump in the current water rate per thousand gallons (making it $3.02). The minimum water charge per quarter remains at $25.
Trustee Marc Ruckman cast the sole "nay" vote for the increases.
During the public hearing, questions were raised as to how rising costs could impact the future of businesses coming to and/or staying in Fredonia.
"My concern is the big picture of the area, business-wise," Tuscany Fresh Meats and Deli Owner George Civiletto said. "At some point, we have to sit back and realize we have lost one of our anchor corporations in this village (Carriage House), and just how do we intend to attract another if we have (high) water and sewer rates and we continue to raise them? It takes the attractiveness of this area away a little bit."
Mayor Stephen Keefe replied by explaining Carriage House's complete closure by early next year is a major reason why rates had to go up, since it was such a large and crucial customer for both the wastewater treatment plant and the water filtration plant. Both plants are losing employees to close the deficit the village initially faced in its 2014-15 budget when the closure was announced in mid-March.
Keefe also insisted that his discussions with ConAgra Foods Inc., Carriage House's owner, indicated water and sewer rents were not the reason for its move to Kentucky.
"When you have them at the table and they can ask for anything in the world they want to ask for, that would be the time to say it," he added. "We're not excited about this increase, either. We didn't want to be in this situation, but we have to take action to protect the residents."
Trustee Susan Mackay agreed, pointing out Kentucky gave ConAgra a "several-million-dollar incentive" to move there.
"Our water rates didn't make that final decision for them," she said.
The sewer and water rent increases are Fredonia's third and fourth local laws of 2014, respectively.
Also during the meeting, a quote from DFT Communications for a new phone system at the wastewater plant was accepted. The new system, which will be the same one as village hall's, will cost a one-time fee of about $3,000, in addition to a monthly fee of $137 for a three-year period.
The board entered into executive session to discuss the medical condition of a particular employee.
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