Serwatka’s Tax-Fighter Team Wins in Lakewood

Lakewood Village Trustee Paul Serwatka won his race for Village President when the man who filed against him, Ken Santowski, ran an unsuccessful write-in campaign after taking himself off the ballot.

The vote was 588 for Serwatka and 246 for a write-in, presumably Santowski.

Serwatka got his start in local politics by running a successful write-in campaign two years ago, trouncing all the candidates on the ballot.

Serwatka’s three Village Trustee candidates also came out on top.

The results follow:

  1. Amy Fues Odom – 595
  2. Philip Stephan – 544
  3. Richard Richie –  539
  4. Gene Furey – 349
  5. John Schrauf – 347


Serwatka’s Tax-Fighter Team Wins in Lakewood — 19 Comments

  1. Now, we hope that the new Board will care more about its current residents than the future of the intersection of 176 & 47 and its development.

    Lakewood has neither the expertise nor need for such follies….a minor league baseball team??

    The outgoing team was out of touch.

    AND, the idea of making the current Village Hall into a restaurant is more shear folly, ask someone in the business!

  2. Fred, your comments about the outgoing board are dead on.

    First and most important, it simply isn’t the job of the local government to speculate in real estate with our tax money.

    It isn’t a matter of whether they’re occasionally right or wrong, the important thing is that’s not why we elected them!

    We want roads that are plowed (!) and sewers that work (!) and police and fire protection, code enforcement and, frankly, not a whole lot else.

    Second, the idea that any group of local elected officials — and especially the outgoing group — is so consistently smarter than the marketplace as a whole that they can decide where to “invest” taxpayer funds in a real estate development is denied by all history.

    If they’re that smart, they should run a hedge fund, not a Village.

    I hope the new guys sell the land the old board bought at 176 & 47.

    If it’s sold at a loss, that’s not the new guys’ fault and waiting is just more speculation on the speed and direction of real estate prices.

    Besides, the proceeds could be used to reduce our tax rate.

  3. If the loss is less than even one year of the potential tax liability that the current situation exposes us to, then we’re far better off.

  4. It’s easy to be a wannabe businessman/ woman with your own little kingdom when it’s subsidized by taxpayers and losses don’t mean a thing.

  5. President Serwatka and Commissioner Gasser:

    The political establishment despises you both and now you have the chance to prove them wrong.

    So many of us are praying that you will not only succeed but also provide the leadership that is so desperately needed.

    End the TIF and stop the nepotism.

    Best of luck to the both of you.

  6. Congratulations, Paul!

    Now… get down to doing the public’s business and not that of the establishment/promoter types.

  7. It’s easy to be a no name, armchair quarterback on a blog too (I will give Steve credit for using his name).

    There are so many nameless individuals on this and other blogs that seem to have a lot of ideas and criticism but don’t show up and participate.

    They are no different from those that complain and don’t vote.

    While I was NOT involved in the land purchase and generally don’t agree with government purchasing real estate this purchase makes sense.

    – The property was in foreclosure and was purchased below market price. In fact, the purchase contract between Lakewood and the bank included a claw back clause wherein the Village would be required to surrender some of the profit to the bank if the Village should turn around and sell the property for a profit within a set time frame. This has recently expired.

    – A portion of the property is needed for intersection improvements at 176 and 47. Would you have preferred the Village wait until the property was purchased by a private owner, then enter in to costly negotiations with a new owner or possibly an eminent domain proceeding? Spending money on attorneys and eminent domain fights does not save taxpayers money.

    – By purchasing the property, Lakewood was moved up on the list for State money to fund the improvements because there wouldn’t be a costly fight to obtain the property needed for the improvements.

    – Lakewood may even be able to sell the remainder of the property that is not needed for the improvements and recoup most, if not all, of the initial purchase cost. This would result in a net SAVINGS to the tax payer over the plan suggested by other commentor.

    – Making bad decisions that cost Village residents money and blaming it on a previous Board is a foolish suggestion. As stewards of Village finances, Trustees are required to do what is best for the Village. Just because we do not believe in a previous Boards actions, does not give us the right to damage Village finances.

    – Selling off property at a loss, simply for the sake of selling it makes you a TAX WASTER. Blaming it on someone else makes you a child. As government officials we are constantly at the mercy of our predecessors. All we can do is make informed decisions moving forward.

    – Selling Village assets and reducing cash reserves may temporarily and artificially reduce taxes for ONE year but it could also negatively affect the Village bond rating. If our bond rates rise, the interest on our debts will rise and the savings residents thought they were getting will be erased in future tax years. I am excited to see how the tax fighters will cut 10%, permanently, from our Village budget while maintaining the level of service our residents expect. This means cutting at least $300,000 from a $3,000,000 budget and equates to about $225 per home in a tax year.

    – Selling Village assets and spending cash reserves to reduce taxes is similar to a person spending money from their savings account and pretending their expenses for the year were less because they did not need more income. Lakewood infrastructure is aging, there are water and sewer main repairs that will need to be done. Paying for those repairs from cash reserve funds will cost residents less than borrowing money.

    – Developing commercial property in Lakewood is the only real solution to a tax reduction. Route 47 and 176 is the best answer. Do I believe we should build a sportsplex or baseball stadium? No, I don’t believe the Village should build anything but if a developer wants to RISK HIS OWN FUNDS, that is a different story.

    And while we are on the topic of 176 and 47, there is NOT a ticking tax time bomb.

    All development in that area is Planned Unit Development (PUD).

    This means the Village Board must approve any development and can set the parameters on how that will happen.

    No Village Board is going to approve residential development in that area.

    (1)Lakewood needs commercial in that area and

    (2)They know the damage it will do to the Village budget.

  8. Jason, some of your points are well taken.

    I’m not entirely sure that changing the intersection is an improvement.

    I would want to see what the tangible benefit is versus the cost.

    As for using the proceeds from a sale to reduce taxes, what is the alternative, keeping the money in a drawer?

    Using it all in one year to cut taxes and then having to increase them sharply the next would be a bad idea.

    Using the proceeds to lower taxes over several years sounds good to me.

  9. Steve, hopefully you are able to attend some Board meetings.

    It would be great to meet you in person.

    Now that the claw back has expired, I would imagine Lakewood could market the remainder of the property it doesn’t need without sharing any potential gain with the bank.

    As for the proceeds, my suggestion would be to evaluate the capital needs for Lakewood’s infrastructure and determine if it is prudent to “refund” the money to the taxpayers or use it as a buffer against expenses such as water and sewer main replacement.

    Turnberry has several areas that will need attention in the near term and either way residents end up paying.

    Having reserves dedicated to replacing aging infrastructure is good for taxpayers.

    Excessive reserves, however, would be an entirely different topic.

  10. Jason, I try very hard to avoid meetings.

    Let’s just grab some lunch one day soon.

  11. Jason McMahon,

    Glad to see that you are once again living up to your intended role of Erin Smith’s handpicked mouthpiece!

    I guess that’s exactly why she, alone, appointed you!

    This is the trustee who never received a single vote, but was single handedly chosen By none other than President, Erin Smith to fill the resigned spot of Ken Santowski.

    Jason is the trustee who said at a public meeting that Lakewood needs to cater to developers and that Lakewood is quickly becoming known as “the village that says NO to everything”.

    Jason than went on to cite Lakewoods saying NO to:

    – The Sportsplex
    – The Turnberry Condo Development
    – Video Gaming!

    Jason continues to sing the song of Erin Smith and her business as usual style of politics, even today AFTER we, the Lakewood residents have so boldly said “NO MORE”!.

    Still Jason echo’s Erin Smith’s talking points almost verbatim.

    Jason – first, learn the difference between the budget and the property tax levy. You sound like a fool!

    Second, are you really so arrogant as to pretend you are clairvoyant?

    For you to say “No Village Board is going to approve residential development in that area” shows a frightening, degree of both ignorance and arrogance on your part!

    Particularly when we just watched our village board attempt to get rid of police patrol at night, in an effort to finance the design phase of their beloved new village hall.

    Jason, we have made ourselves quite clear. We are tired of this garbage!

    We never elected you.

    Serve the residents or resign!

  12. S. Prichard, use your real name. Take my offer to meet face to face. You are great at hurling insults on a blog, but what have YOU done for Lakewood? When will you stand up and contribute?

    Not one thing you said contributed to the conversation. You simply wrote a 300 word tantrum trying to insult, belittle and degrade me. If you don’t believe enough in the things you write to use your real name, why should I or anyone else take you seriously?

    Residents with the courage to stand up and volunteer in their community will do what is best for Lakewood. Residents that run for Board positions, residents that volunteer for committees, residents like Steve Willson, whom have the courage to use their name and contribute to a discussion. While I may not always agree with what he writes, he takes time to do the research and is confident enough to put his name on it. Research and knowledge are what it takes to make educated decisions.

    Lakewood residents are smart. They will see through your scare tactics. They will find the emperor has no clothes, I will be sure of that.

    Use your real name and let’s talk Budget vs. Levy, that would be fun.

  13. Thank you Jason for being a voice of reason.

    You are absolutely correct, the unfounded insults and rhetoric needs to stop.

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