In times past Lakewood Village Trustee Ken Santowski sent monthly emails explaining what happened at that month’s meetings.
For at least this month, he has decided to continue the practice. (Would that more local officials would take the time to share their viewpoints of governmental meetings.)
Last night’s board meeting was attended by approximately 50+ residents.
Most of them were there about the proposed new Special Service Area (SSA#8 to be precise) to replace the expiring SSA#1. [SSA is short for “Special Service Area.”]
As we all know the current SSA expires and the village board decided to simply let it expire.
It had no intention of issuing any new tax hike to pay for the care of Lakes #1 through #4.
The board was letting the resident owners of the lakes decide what was best for their property.
Over the last year there were several “factions” of people that tried to get residents together and make a decision as to what they wanted to do: if anything.
They also had the right to do absolutely nothing at all.
Last night’s meeting was a culmination of those efforts.
The TPA (Turnberry Property Owners Association) and its board had decided to decrease the area of the SSA (leaving most of our area out) to include those that they felt were directly involved, attached or associated by neighborhood to those lakes.
Several (open to the public) meetings were held and many lively and colorful discussions were held.
What resulted from those meetings, along with mailings and door to door discussions resulted in this group asking the village board to establish a new SSA on their behalf.
Of the almost 300 surveys, questionnaires or whatever you want to call them that were sent out almost 225 people chose to respond.
About 185 said yes and 35 said no.
This resulted in the TPA (the controlling force behind this decision) to ask the village to establish a new SSA on these almost 300 homes.
There was an extremely and impressive attempt by the Turnberry Lakes Club to do this a volunteer program.
They had pledges of almost $40,000.00 for the fund for next year.
The problem was what to do for the following year, the following 5 years and so on.
To continuously ask those 300 homes for a donation each year seemed to be a daunting task.
Somewhere in their discussions it was presented that the funds should be collected through their property tax bills and then put into a fund that THEY control along with the Lakewood Village Board.
Again let me remind you that these residents (about 185 of them) are asking for a tax to be put on their bill for the care of those 4 lakes.
The remaining 115 of them either chose no or simply decided NOT to answer.
So in this democracy we live in, the 185 now have the attention of the board.
When a Trustee asked how many in attendance were AGAINST the new SSA there were about 7 or 8 hands up that I saw.
All members of the board and the residents each had an opportunity to speak their mind.
Some were articulate and exacting while some were not; but each was able to speak their mind.
I voted to allow the process of forming a new SSA.
I felt that the TPA and those residents in attendance gave a compelling argument as to why they wanted to have a new tax put on their property.
Whether they believe their tax rate for the new SSA is going to be $150 or $450 is going to be their choice.
They are invited and encouraged to be part of the budget process for this fund; the budget will determine how much the tax levy will be.
Those who object will also have their opportunity to dent the process.
They will have the opportunity to file a formal objection before the next step in the process (in 60 days from now).
Those that object have the right to be informed, just as they were allowed to be informed with
- the many (I believe there were 7) meetings
- mailings and
- door to door visits
explaining the proposed new SSA. Those residents living in the proposed new SSA are also in the current SSA.
I do not want to add any taxes to anyone’s property bill.
This is what those residents asked the village board to do.
The village will examine the budget requests each year for the SSA fund and then assess the levied amount; all based on input from these 300 people.
There are many more details; you will read about them in the coming weeks through various emails, newspaper articles and blogs.
The proposed SSA ordinance is available to the public; please review it carefully and ask questions.
I just wanted you to know that I think this was the right decision based on the residents’ requests.
I had no reason to doubt those residents integrity.
Why would I?
Nothing is perfect and whether you have 300 or 3000 people voting on something you are going to get some people that simply don’t agree.
Hopefully the decision I made last night was a valid one and for those that disagree I ask them to call me and I would happily discuss.