A comment from newly-appointed Lakewood Village Trustee Jason McMahon which deserves broader readership:
It’s easy to be a no name, armchair quarterback on a blog too (I will give Steve [Willson] 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.
- Lakewood needs commercial in that area and
- They know the damage it will do to the Village budget.