Lakewood Trustee Gives Take on Last Board Meetin

Lakewood Village Trustee Ken Santowski has a delightful habit of giving his view on what happens at Lakewood Village Board meetings each month. I attended this meeting, but still have gotten around to writing up my notes. Here’s his version:

Village Board Meeting of March 22nd, 2010

When I walked into the room that evening I was pleasantly surprised to see the room “somewhat filled” with residents. It was nice to see “Lakewoodians” come out for a meeting.

Then I remembered (how could I forget) the budget talks involved Redtail.

Since the other budget items were some-what “status quo”, I shall jump right into the Redtail talk. That does not mean they were insignificant, but since the economy is still down, those funds will have less money in them to allocate to projects, repairs and maintenance.

Whether you agreed or not with the board some 20 years ago when they decided to purchase Redtail does not matter anymore.

In October, the golf course will be paid off and the village will own the course free and clear; but with a catch.

A number of repairs and upgrades will need to be done to the course over the next ten years to keep it at the level golfers expect.

The big question is: How do we pay for those expenses?

Everyone on the board and those in attendance all agreed that Redtail should be an Enterprise Fund in the future.

KenSantowski

What that means is that the golf course will have to stand on its own in the years to come. Its budget will be set by those who use the golf course and those who work there.

Money will not be taken out of the general fund to pay for operation of the course.

The board can vote to “loan” the fund some money if needed.

Based on the numbers presented to the board over the past few years, it appears that the course can stand on its own.

The big question is: how to pay for future repairs and upgrades?

Three (3) major upgrades needed to be talked about-Bunker replacements, sprinkler system and the clubhouse (or lack thereof) were the points discussed. Numbers were thrown around of about $3.5M to $4M for these future projects.

  • The water sprinkler system needs to be replaced at a cost of about $1M.
  • The bunkers need to be redone at a cost of about $500K to $1M.
  • Then there is the trailer/clubhouse. Costs are estimated to be about $2M.

There were lengthy discussions on how to fund these projects.

Three opinions were offered during this period. The opinions were based on current need and future need.

I shall begin with my own first.

In the foreground is Red Tail Committee member Jeff Iden, a candidate for Lakewood Village Board against Julie Richardson. Sitting to his left is Rich Ford, who made the presentation.

During the past year the board challenged the Redtail committee to come up with a plan to build a new clubhouse that was affordable and practical. This was a major task since they could not have anyone give them “real” estimates of the cost. However, this group of golf enthusiasts collected vast amounts of information from various courses and spent hundreds of hours compiling and sorting the data.

They came up with a comprehensive plan to build a clubhouse that was practical and affordable and still have some (not a lot) of reserves for future repairs and improvements (bunkers and sprinklers). I was under the impression that this was the object of the committee and then they make their recommendation to the board; which they did. No, it was not a formal presentation but it certainly seemed to me that it was a step in the right direction. It seems like that proposal has been pushed aside because of the dreaded “doomsday scenario” once again.

In order to figure out if you are headed in the right direction, it is best to take a step forward. I was asked if I would ever sell the course. I answered yes but it would have to be for an incredible amount of money and remain a golf course.

How much money? If someone came and offered 2-3 times the price of the value of the course, I would definitely consider it. Anything else would not be considered unless we were in dire financial trouble. And the golf course is not in financial trouble.

I believe we should seriously consider the committee’s findings and look at building a small reputable clubhouse.

No, we do not want to compete with Turnberry, Pine Crest or any banquet halls.

Yes, we would like to be able to have larger group outings and tournaments.

For the last 10 years Marriott Lincolnshire has had a tent up that held weddings, parties and meetings. It was used when needed and it seemed to work just fine.

Several courses, including Redtail, have used tents in previous years to “house” larger events. The committee’s finding was that a small versatile clubhouse could be built on the same site as the current trailer, service most golf outings, and be profitable.

Why wouldn’t we start to go down that road? It certainly seems like the least destructive path.

During the course of the budget hearing, two financial resources were discussed. I found that a little premature since we are still “stuck in park” about the golf course and clubhouse.

The two resources were

  • a referendum (hold onto your seats) and
  • a Special Services Area Tax (say what?)

We have not even made the last payment on the course and some people are already talking about a new tax to help fund it.

I tried to divert the discussion about either of those resources and get back onto the committee’s recommendation, but my shipmates kept steering towards the rocks.

This man is heading to the 6 PM Lakewood Budget Hearing in the RedTail Clubhouse.

The constant talk of not having money left to build a clubhouse and pay for repairs just does not seem to be justified when the numbers speak for themselves.

I am not sure if we as board members are serving the residents in the best capacity when we talk of new taxes before the old ones expire. The course (get it …”course”) we should take is to move forward with replacing the trailers with a “clubhouse” that is affordable and profitable.

We, as a board, have the resources to accomplish that during our tenure, during this year. I am definitely against a referendum or an SSA when it has not been proven that the golf course will fail financially without it.

Most of the residents in attendance seemed to be concerned when those 2 resources were mentioned.

Trustees Carl Davis, Julie Richardson and Gene Furey take part in the Red Tail Golf Course discussion.

Jeff Iden (Redtail Committee Member) tried to explain to the crowd that the course makes money once you paid off the debt. He also reiterated that this had been the case for many previous years. No, we can’t just erase the fact that the club had large payments here in the end, but facts are facts.

And since the members of the committee seem to know what they are talking about it seems to me that we should at least respect that knowledge and finally take a step, grab a shovel and start building that clubhouse. After all, isn’t anything better than what we have?

After a short break, we can start talking about the actual meeting.

Well how was your break?

The meeting was rather short and concise except for one partial problem.

Recently, a rather sizeable grant was awarded to Lakewood and several surrounding towns to upgrade the communications equipment amongst fire and police. The intent was to streamline and decrease the possibility of errors when those services were needed. Bids were submitted to SEECOM (Southeast Emergency Communications) based on their criteria.

Apparently, somewhere along the way, things got tangled up in the interpretation of the requests for bid and we wound up getting slightly different bid proposals. If you think these statements are confusing, then you should have been there in person. After some lengthy and sometimes confusing statements, it was decided to table the awarding of the bid until things get straightened out. This one will get interesting.

The only other real decision was to award the work for the Huntley road bike path.

As you all know I was and still am against this project since I believe it benefits Crystal Lake more than Lakewood. Yes, I am all for safety of riders, walkers and runners, but, this path (which Crystal Lake decided to NOT help fund) will make it easier for Lakewood residents to get to Main Beach and other entities in Crystal Lake where of course they will spend their money.

Yes, Crystal Lake residents will have their chance to use the path and ride to Lou’s, the karate studio, dog groomer, dentist, day-care and attend church, but we paid for the path, not them.

Fortunately, since the economy is still down, the bids received were significantly less than anticipated, thus, if the project comes in on budget and we receive the reimbursement from the GOVERNMENT, it will ultimately save us money.

But as I stated, I was against building this path in the beginning since I wanted to use those funds to build a certain “clubhouse “(yes, in my backyard) that would have provided revenue to our Village. Just because someone offers to sell me a Maserati for $40,000 doesn’t mean it is a good deal if I don’t need one!

Well, it is time to put away my typewriter until next time. So, if you have the urge to attend the next village board meeting on April 12th, please do so. There will be some new faces on the board that night since the election is coming up.

Speaking of new faces……. It is time to go out and vote. The election is Tuesday April 5th. You have 2 local election decisions here in Lakewood. There are 3 candidates running for 3 positions of 4 year terms- Gary Sexson, Carl Davis and Ken Santowski. You can vote for one, two or all three of them. Or you can show your disdain and vote for none of them. Yes, those three (I am one of them) will be elected that night (hopefully).

The tightest race and most controversial one is between Jeff Iden and Julie Richardson for the 2 year term. I have had the opportunity to work with Julie as President and now as Trustee (she was appointed to this position to fill Dorothy Pfeuffer’s spot). I have also had the opportunity to work with Jeff Iden since he is on the Redtail Committee and he is also a local businessman. Both would make wonderful board members. Depending on how you look at the village now is the way you should vote. If you think things have gone great over the past couple of years, then vote for Julie. If you want some changes because you are not the most happiest of people and believe Jeff Iden will do a better job of saving your tax dollars, then vote for him. The most important thing is to get out and vote on Tuesday April 5th. It is your money

Warmest Regards

Kenneth M Santowski 847-910-2985

This message was sent to you because you asked me to send it to you. Should you decide that I cannot spell or am just an irritating person, then ask to be removed from the list. I can handle it. You have the right to forward this to anyone you want. I have nothing to hide and these words are mine and mine alone. They reflect my interpretation of what I encounter sitting behind the desk as your representative. Let me know what you think both in person and at the ballot box. Thanks, again


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