The Lakewood Village Board has the abolition of its Tax Increment Financing District at tonight’s 7 PM meeting at the Red Tail Golf Club.
Today an email from former Village President Erin Smith was forwarded to Board members by Village Administrator Shannon Andrews:
Request to Delay Lakewood TIF District Vote
I am writing to respectfully request that the Lakewood Village Board delay tonight’s vote to dissolve the TIF district.
I am also formally requesting that this email be shared with all Lakewood Board Members in advance of tonight’s meeting.
I have lived in the Village of Lakewood for more than 30 years and served on the Village Board for 12 years.
For several decades, successive Boards, having studied both short-term and long-term financial projections for the Village, have arrived at the same conclusion: the only way to reduce taxes on a long-term basis is to diversify the tax base through commercial development at Routes 47 and 176.
The TIF district is an essential tool in recruiting commercial development and the only means by which the Village can pay for water and utilities required for development.
A TIF district cannot be created when commercial development is approved as it takes time to create a TIF and the developer will move to a neighboring town where a TIF is already established.
The members of this Board were elected with the promise of transparency.
Tonight’s vote is in direct conflict with this message for the following reasons:
- The TIF district took two years to create and required multiple public notices and public hearings where less than 5 Lakewood residents objected. Eliminating it should also include public notice to all residents through a letter to each home and at least one public hearing where all perspectives are formally considered.
- The full Board will not be present for tonight’s meeting and the fact that the Trustee who is absent is not supportive of eliminating the TIF makes the timing of this vote suspect.
- This is also the first Board Meeting for one elected Trustee and the Trustee who will be appointed this evening. These Trustees have not had sufficient time to review all information related to the TIF district and should be provided with additional time to prepare.
- Two key staff roles, the positions of Village Manager and Village Treasurer and Finance Director are currently vacant with the Deputy Manager doing her best to cover two full-time roles. These two roles are critical roles in terms of preparing an objective and comprehensive analysis for the Board to consider before a vote of such significance.
- Given the long-term impact of eliminating the TIF, Lakewood residents should ALL be included in this discussion, not just residents who have been personally selected by President Serwatka to receive email and Facebook communication. Every member of the previous Board requested that Paul copy us on any email communication he distributed and we were all denied access. At least one Trustee who requested access to the Lakewood Taxfighter Facebook page was blocked.
If this Board is serious about transparency, you will delay tonight’s vote.
I cannot attend this evening’s meeting and would respectfully request that my letter be read out loud at tonight’s meeting so that it is reflected in the audio recording of the meeting.