After the boil order ended for the water supply, the village of Fredonia held a special meeting Thursday, but problems at the water filtration plant were not discussed during the public portion of the meeting.
Resolutions on the agenda included standard business items, such as a budget transfer, next year's meeting schedule, and authorization to replace two windows at the D.R. Barker Library, not to exceed $962. The regularly scheduled meeting on Monday is said to still take place.
After discussion and resolutions, the board entered into executive (private) session to discuss personnel issues.
Village Trustee Joseph Cerrie said the executive session involved two potential Department of Public Works hires, and said, "We wanted to have that cleared up so we could have it (on the agenda to hire two employees for the DPW) on Monday."
Mayor Stephen Keefe said finding a replacement for the water filtration plant supervisor was also discussed in the executive session. The current supervisor, Rob Lancaster, submitted his retirement paperwork on Oct. 24 following the discovery of several months of unplanned water purchases from the city of Dunkirk totaling $99,000. The village budgeted for $5,000 in annual water expenses from Dunkirk, and transferred $95,000 from unallocated funds to cover the unplanned expense. Lancaster's retirement is date is set for Dec. 29.
"We have to figure out what qualifications the person has to have. It's a civil service position, so we need to know whether or not we can promote someone, or hire from inside the village, or if we have to go outside the village, and what sort of certifications they have to have," Keefe said of the filtration plant supervisor's position.
While the most recent chemical failure at the plant which caused the boil order has been remedied, no changes have been made to the plant since the unexpected incident. Earlier in the week, Keefe told the OBSERVER, "We need to come up with a way to avoid (a system failure) in the future. ... "We're looking at putting an alarm system on the mechanical system. We need to start thinking about what else can go wrong and prepare for any other possibilities."
When asked after the meeting if any plans had been formalized or date set to address measures to prevent the recent chemical pump failure at the filtration plant, the mayor said no plans have been made, but he "can see that coming" after the meeting when asked.
Currently, the only alarms in the water filtration plant are designed to signal water levels. Keefe said when the plant was automated by an engineering firm, it removed the necessity for an overnight operator, so no one was at the plant at the time of the failure. Cerrie said the firm O'Brien and Gere completed the automation steps at the plant 14-15 years ago, and discussions will be made with the firm regarding preventative measures, but said he did not have a specific date or time frame. Keefe confirmed a time frame or specific plans to address the system failure were not yet in place.
Keefe said there were currently no applications for review to replace Lancaster's position, but the board wants to "get someone in right away and get them trained," while Lancaster remains on the job, "so we have a good transition." He said the implementation of a plan to prevent another water treatment failure would "be at the top of the priorities" for the new plant operator.
During the public portion of the workshop meeting, Village Administrator Rick St. George said numbers provided to the OBSERVER by Dunkirk Mayor A.J. Dolce regarding the amount of water and billing were incorrect. St. George provided a usage report which estimates the amount used from Dunkirk during the period of Nov. 29 through Dec. 3 as 2,035,000 gallons at a cost of $8,400, billed at a special emergency rate. On Wednesday, Dolce said he was told by Mark Woods of the Dunkirk water plant "just over 2.5 million gallons" were used by the village, and a special rate was not being issued.
On Thursday, Village Attorney Sam Drayo said the contract between the city and village as well as state law stipulate the city rate be used during emergencies. The board agreed to have Drayo contact the city of Dunkirk's attorney to discuss billing discrepancies. No final bill has been issued yet.
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