The Inaugural Meeting of the New Lakewood Village Board

From Village President Paul Serwatks:

Reporting on our May 9th village board meeting, there are a few items I wanted to share with you.

Inauguration of The Lakewood Tax-Fighter & Better Government Team

I, along with 2 of our 3 newly elected trustees, Phil Stephan and Ric Ritchie, were sworn in and assumed our newly elected roles on Tuesday. Newly elected trustee, Amy Odom, had a family emergency and was unable to attend. Amy will be sworn in and assume her newly elected role as trustee at our May 23rd meeting.

I know I can speak for the entire team in saying that we are all anxious to get started on fulfilling ALL of the promises we have made to residents and we encourage everyone to continue to stay informed and to continue to encourage other Lakewood friends and neighbors to stay informed, as well.

Appointment of New Lakewood Planning & Zoning Commission, Chairman and Commissioner

At this meeting, I made two recommendations to the board – to appoint a new Commissioner and a new Chairman to our Planning and Zoning Commission.

For the role of Chairman of Lakewood’s Planning and Zoning Commission, I recommended Lakewood resident, John O’Hara.

For Commissioner, my recommendation was resident, Andy Knapp.

John O’Hara has a wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise in the areas of Residential and Commercial Building Construction, Planning and Zoning, as well as both Residential and Commercial Development.

Andy Knapp is also well versed in Single Family Home Construction, as well as Commercial Sales, Project Management and Residential and Commercial Financing.

Unlike past appointments to this commission, both John and Andy have had quite a bit of relevant discussion with board members, both submitted detailed Curriculum Vitae/resumes (see pages 48, 49 of the May 9th board packet below) and both were in attendance at the meeting to be interviewed by/field questions from the board.

The board voted, unanimously, in support of my recommendations.

These appointments are the first of three steps that I have planned to bring an entirely new level of legitimacy and expertise to, perhaps, one of our village’s most important and under-utilized commissions/committees.

I will be reporting more on this very soon.

Purchase of a New Replacement Plow/Salt Truck

The issue at hand was the purchase of a replacement plow/salt truck in the amount on $177,428. (page 58 of the May 9th board packet). This item was first discussed at our previous, April 25th meeting prior to the new elected members taking office.

At the April 25th meeting, still as trustee, I raised several concerns regarding this expenditure, as presented, and moved to postpone this item to our May 9th meeting, so as to allow time for due diligence. Trustee Carl Davis seconded my motion and the board voted to postpone.

At our most recent May 9th meeting, however, this became somewhat of a contentious issue for trustee Jason McMahon.

Our intention in postponing this purchase was to get some additional insight from staff, public works personnel and others – including a second, and perhaps third, bid for this substantial purchase, as well as an objective, third-party, expert opinion as to the selection of equipt.

Due to a scheduling conflict and requests for information, some questions were not unanswered by the May 9th meeting date. Because of this, I, along with newly seated trustees Stephan and Ritchie, felt that a bit of additional time was needed to conclude what we felt was the necessary due diligence before making such a substantial expenditure, which, at $177,000, equates to 10% of our entire annual property tax levy ($1.7 Million).

Trustee McMahon was upset that we were asking for additional information and that the information wasn’t obtained in time for the May 9th meeting. He felt we were being overzealous in our due diligence, and emphatically stated that he was ready to vote and wanted the board to vote now. He also felt it was not fair to say the expenditure constituted 10% of our property tax levy, stating that, “although the amount of the expenditure itself may equal 10% of the tax levy, the truck itself would last for several years.”

With this, the board voted to postpone the purchase of the truck until our May 23rd meeting. Trustee McMahon casting the only vote against.

Hiring a Temporary Part-Time Finance Director

Our Finance Director, George Roach, ended his contract with our village as of April 30, 2017. George served in a part-time capacity and staff has been looking for a replacement for this position.

In the interim, staff has filled this role via a “Temp Agency” and will continue to look for someone to fill this position. If you know of anyone who may be qualified to fill this position (preferably in a part-time capacity) please let me know!

I have provided a link to the board packet below.

As always, your thoughts, questions and concerns are always welcome and always valued.

May 9 2017 Board Packet:


The Inaugural Meeting of the New Lakewood Village Board — 5 Comments

  1. When does the campaign end and the leadership begin?

    I find it very disturbing our new Village President, Paul Serwatka of The Lakewood Tax Fighter Party, would insult past and present resident volunteers of the, non-political, Planning and Zoning Commission by stating he will bring a “new level of legitimacy and expertise” to one of our Village’s most “important” commissions.

    If this commission is so “important” why has Paul Serwatka not attend ONE meeting in TWO years as a trustee?

    How can Paul Serwatka know what expertise is needed on a commission without understanding its’ function?

    It does not take construction related experience to review zoning code.

    Construction related reviews are handled by the Building Department and Architectural Review.

    I also find it disturbing our new “Tax Fighter Party” is operating informal committees, such as the “snow committee”, that have not been subject to Board approval in a public meeting.

    Paul Serwatka raged against the previous Board when he felt they withheld information from him.

    Now, as President, he is embracing a lack of transparency by delaying the vote on a long planned truck purchase by FOUR weeks so his “committee” can review it.

    Even in the face of a FOIA, Paul Serwatka chose to withhold the names of HIS committee.

    This delay has the potential to cost the Village money NOT in its current Budget and the “Committee” has so far recommended MORE COSTLY alternatives.

    So much for transparency and tax fighting.

    I have posted my entire response to the Tax Fighter letter on my facebook page:

  2. “Little Erin” is back…

    The voice of the status quo lives on!

  3. Are personal insults the only way to fight facts?

    Apparently transparency is more of a one way mirror for the Tax Fighter Party.

    Why don’t you use your real name?

    I would be happy to sit down and talk with you.

  4. The Illinois Attorney General FOIA website has free citizen training and plenty of other information on the Open Meetings Act.


    Edgar County Watchdogs is a good resource to learn about what is and is not permissible by locally elected officials.

    They have examples in many counties.

  5. Thank you for the info Mark. I will definitely check it out.

    Although one would expect a politician preaching about transparency to be a shining example and not use law to avoid disclosure.

    Anything less is more status quo just new faces.

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