A reply from Steve Wilson to the comment made by Jason McMahon:
Jason, let’s examine your comments one by one.
First, “A portion of the property is needed for intersection improvements at 176 and 47.”
If indeed a portion of the property was needed for “improvement”, then purchasing that portion and only that portion could be justified.
However, that word “improvement” is used awfully loosely with regard to road projects.
Can you show the tangible benefit of the proposed changes?
Can you compare that with the total cost?
Only if the value exceeds the cost can you claim that portion is justified.
As for the rest, it was not justified.
Next “Selling off property at a loss, simply for the sake of selling it makes you a TAX WASTER.”
No, Jason, keeping property the Village has no business owning is a tax waste.
Trying to divine the market and time the sale is real estate speculation, and that is not the business of ANY Village Board — not the last one and not the one coming into office.
Next “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.”
Jason, no one suggested using the proceeds of the sale for a one-time large reduction.
A better idea would be to spread the proceeds over, say, a ten year period to reduce our taxes.
After all, the property was purchased with our taxes, and that the Village had enough money for the purchase shows they have been over-taxing us for years.
As for the bond rating, that’s not going to drop if the money is drawn down slowly.
Next “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.”
No, it’s not, because it’s OUR money — the TAXPAYERS’ money.
In a perfect world, the government would take in exactly what was needed to cover necessary expenditures.
As the world isn’t perfect, in any given year, the government may run a small surplus or a small deficit.
But over time, those should balance out.
The only reason to keep a modest fund balance is to cover uneven cash flows throughout the year. Moody’s considers a fund balance equal to 8% of expenditures to be adequate.
But if the Village has large fund balances, then, as I said above, it’s because they over taxed us for years.
Next, “Developing commercial property in Lakewood is the only real solution to a tax reduction.”
No, Jason, there’s another obvious solution: cut expenditures.
That you fail to even entertain that idea is a particularly disturbing statement from a public official.
Finally, “No Village Board is going to approve residential development in that area.” [47 & 176]
One would hope so.
But we’ve seen Village Boards do other stupid things, like buy golf courses and sign TIF agreements putting Lakewood’s taxpayers on the hook for expenditures by a school district of which they aren’t part.
We’ve seen school districts build bleachers without permits and then use the taxpayers’ money to fight a losing suit all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court.
Based on my years of experience with local government,
I lack your faith, which is why I prefer that local governments simply stay out of such situations.