Fredonia’s Experience With Village Manager Hasn’t Been Entirely Positive

Lakewood officials considering adopting a village manager or administrator would be wise to consider the experience of Fredonia.

Fredonia, a larger village than Lakewood, has six part-time elected officials — a mayor and five board members — and it has a village administrator who is paid $120,000 a year. The administrator is credited by many, including our sister paper in Dunkirk, that the administrator knows the finances and the inner workings of the village better than anyone in the building, but that doesn’t mean village government runs smoothly.

Frank Pagano, a longtime Fredonia mayor, spoke at the most recent Fredonia Village Board meeting about a contentious meeting on June 11, saying “The rancor that occurred at the last board meeting was embarrassing. It was embarrassing for you. It was embarrassing for this village.”

The dissension and in-fighting Pagano described has been longstanding in Fredonia and predates many of the current elected officials. Through all of the bad decisions, stalled talks and rancor, the village administrator rarely says much publicly. The village has been described by many observers as lacking direction. Board members come, bicker and then leave, only to see their replacements continue the cycle.

Having a village administrator, even one who critics say is a master of finances and village duties, doesn’t mean village government will work the way the public expects. Let that part of Fredonia’s experience be a guide to Lakewood as it discusses the manager or adminsitrator position. Spending more than $100,000 a year on a position doesn’t mean things will be any better.