Part 7 – Looking at Lakewood TIF and SportsPlex Document

This is the 7th and last installment of my analysis of the documents produced by Lakewood Village Clerk Jan Hansen in reply to my Freedom of Information Act request concerning SportsPlex information since that January day when there was a ublic presentation and Tax Increment Financing District information since it was approved by the Village Board.

In the last article, Village Trustee Ken Santowski was quoted as saying,

“There was too much ‘take’ on the developers side.”

Michael Smoron

Michael Smoron

Perhaps Santowski read something about what was in the February 4th email from Walker to Village Attorney Michael Smoron.

“Keep in mind Sportsplex is not making debt service payments directly but depositing its daily operating and ancillary receipts with the bond trustee.

“The shared taxes/TIF receipts are being deposited with the trustee at least monthly from the State/other source. [Emphasis added.]”

There was no discussion of sharing Lakewood taxes or Tax Increment Financing receipts at any meeting I have attended.

SportsPlex spark plug Lou Tenore has not given up, however.

An April 27th email advances the idea of the SportsPlex getting money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

He points out that the criteria include a town’s being less than 5,000 people, the applicant a non-profit and having been rejected for financing before.

There is no maximum amount, the interest rate is 3.5%, but the Rural Development program requires that the project be described as a community center.

That is “DEEMED ESSENTIAL,” Tenore wrote.

“We just need to fit their description.  In Illinois all Community Centers I have found have athletics or fitness.”

= = = = =
There is surely more to come


Part 7 – Looking at Lakewood TIF and SportsPlex Document — 7 Comments

  1. There must be a lead local bank involved?

    They get to administer such loans, not for nothing.

    (from Dept. of Ag. website):

    Community Facilities Direct Loan&Grant Program

    What does this program do?

    This program provides affordable funding to develop essential community facilities in rural areas.

    An essential community facility is defined as a facility that provides an essential service to the local community for the orderly development of the community in a primarily rural area, and does not include private, commercial or business undertakings.

  2. May we see the emails (or any other communications) related to Affordable Housing placement in this tif?

    There is a report due in July, Lakewood must outline compliance plans related to Illinois Affordable Housing Act.

    Lakewood has below 3% Affordable Housing, with 10% required.

    Lakewood Tif students will be placed into Woodstock School District 200.

    Lakewood residents’ children attend Crystal Lake District 147 and district 155.

    Lakewood property taxes go to Crystal Lake District 147 and District 155.

    Property taxpayers in Woodstock District 200 will be entirely responsible for the costs of educating the

    Enrollment created by housing units developed in Lakewood tif.

    Woodstock District 200 annual cost per pupil is about $15,000.

    If 60 students (fair estimate for Lakewood compliance with Illinois Affordable Housing Act: 100 housing units below $90,000 in value), Woodstock D200 property taxpayers will be paying an extra $600,000 the first year (Illinois and Federal taxpayers may pay the other $300,000 annually).

    Because profitable tifs last 35 years, the inflation each year will raise this annual cost substantially (all the property taxes which would normally go to the school District to offset costs will instead be paid to Lakewood Village managers who may distribute this money to developers of her choice).

    So it is relevant to FOIA emails (or any other communications in every format) related to Affordable Housing, low income housing, housing development, rezoning, zoning, residential zoning, Affordable Housing Act compliance report, State of Illinois, or any other conceivable category which applies to the placement of high-density residential housing units in this tif district.

  3. May we see FOIA of Woodstock Fire & Rescue Contract negotiations as relates to the tif?

    As we all know, the taxpayers of Woodstock Fire & Rescue are responsible for all liability, debt, and retirement obligations of the District, while Lakewood enjoys a fixed-fee contract.

    Because the Lakewood tif represents as yet unspecified obligations to provide expanded Fire & Rescue services to the tif area (which might include high-rises, or thousands of children playing contact sports without 15 minute access to a Level One trauma Center service, for example), this is a terrific burden which should be scrutinized carefully when drawing up Lakewood WFRD contracts.

    Evidently This did not happen:

    WFRD Ordinances 192&198:
    Lakewood paid $809,992 to WFRD in 2014. This represents 12.6% of the total paid by legally obligated property taxpayers+Lakewood.
    Legally obligated taxpayers paid $5629779 to WFRD in 2014. This represents 87.4% of the total paid by legally obligated property taxpayers+Lakewood.

    Lakewood contracted to pay $830,000 to WFRD in 2015. This represents 12.6% of the total paid by legally obligated property taxpayers+Lakewood.
    Legally obligated taxpayers will pay $5754136 to WFRD in 2015. This represents 87.4% of the total paid by legally obligated property taxpayers+Lakewood.

    Lakewood EAV represented 18.76% of EAV total of WFRD+Lakewood in 2014. In 2015, Lakewood EAV rose, Woodstock F&R District EAV fell.
    In 2015, Lakewood EAV represents 19.64% of total EAV paying for WFRD, while WFRD-obligated property taxpayers’ EAV represent only 80.36%.

    So with only 80.36% of EAV, Woodstock taxpayers are obligated to pay 87.4% of the cost relative to Lakewood.
    AND, Woodstock taxpayers are obligated to guarantee ALL legal liability AND DEBT (Lakewood can simply cancel the contract and escape obligation).

    Legally obligated taxpayers are obligated for debt, liability, and pension obligations while Lakewood (a contract payer) is not.
    We are negligent if we do not examine the additional burden the Lakewood tif is anticipated to place on WFRD resources.

  4. Cal, I wish you had posted a few of the other documents.

    The Village has denied all along that they would spend any of the Village taxpayers’ money on this project. Their internal documents show this is false, and they have kept this information from the public.

    In an email dated 3/3/15 from Geoff Dickinson of Friedman (the Village’s TIF advisor) to Catherine Peterson, Dickinson states that in order to proceed, the Village will be required to commit $10 million to pay for improvements, long before the TIF revenues will be available in that amount.

    Do any of you citizens remember hearing about this at any public meetings?

    There is the 3/20/15 email from Catherine Peterson to the Board noting there was not sufficient support for the project for it to go forward. But when some board members object, on 3/24/15 she writes, “I would respectfully request that no mention be made of the sports complex… how this message is conveyed publicly is very important in terms of our residents”.

    In other words, just two weeks before the elections, we see the Village Manager conspiring to keep material facts concerning this controversial project from the public.

    Sadly, as we well know, every member of the Village board went along with this “request”.

    So much for transparency. So much for our legislators actually debating the public’s business in public meetings!

    And lest anyone think the SportsPlex is dead, in an email dated 4/8/15, Tom Zanck asks Catherine Peterson, “does the election kill the sportsplex?” and she responds in the negative.

    The proof of that statement is a letter from Erin Smith to the Governor, dated 4/24/15, offering to give away the 40 acres the Village spent $600,000 of the taxpayers’ money to buy.

    That’s $500 from every family in Lakewood!

    Did you read about THAT in the Village President’s letter to the residents?

    I think not!

    So much for the pledge not to use any of our tax dollars for this project! So much for transparency! So much for honesty!

  5. To Steve Jobbs:

    There are four things you can do.

    First, let all the Village Board members know how you feel. It’s clear that at leas SOME of them respond to voter pressure (as well they should).

    Second, get your neighbors to do the same thing.

    Third, remember all this in two years when there is another election.

    Fourth, consider running. We need good people to serve on the board or by default we will end up with more of these prevaricating cheerleaders.

    When done right, serving on a board doesn’t take that much time.

    I just ran a seminar on how to be an effective trustee.

    I’m here to help good people get elected and to teach them how to beat the special interests and the bureaucracy.

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