Lakewood Village President Erin Smith’s Spring letter:
From the President
As I write this article, it is a beautiful and sunny day in the Village of Lakewood. But the bitterly cold weather remains and is a reminder that the long winter season has not yet ended.
While I know that many of our residents have been frustrated by damaged mailboxes and snow piled at the end of driveways and in cul-de-sacs, please know that we are not alone as residents throughout the area face these same challenges.
During one of the most daunting winter seasons of the past few decades, our Public Works crew has worked tirelessly and with limited resources (manpower and otherwise) to keep our streets safe and passable. If you see one of these employees during the course of the day, please consider extending a “thank you” as they are truly the unsung heroes of municipal government.
While it doesn’t seem possible, the reality is that spring is (hopefully) just around the corner. Spring is a wonderful season for new beginnings, and nowhere is that more evident than within our staff.
After more than thirty-nine years of exemplary law enforcement service, including ten years as Chief of Police in the Village of Lakewood, Chief Howell has announced his retirement effective May 16, 2014.
On behalf of the entire Board of Trustees, we want to thank Chief Howell for the fiscal oversight and professionalism that he has brought to the Lakewood Police Department. His leadership will be missed. A recruitment is underway and we plan to have a new Chief of Police in place prior to Chief Howell’s retirement.
As many of you know, our Public Works Director, Paul Ruscko, left last summer to accept the challenge of working in a larger community. With his departure, the staff and Board of Trustees discussed how to most effectively fill our organizational needs at this time.
It was agreed that the position of Deputy Village Manager, with direct oversight of the Public Works Department, provides the most flexibility for our organization.
The response to the recruitment was strong, and I am pleased to announce that Shannon Andrews has accepted the position of Deputy Village Manager with the Village of Lakewood. Shannon brings ten years of municipal experience as Assistant Village Manger at Lake in the Hills to this position. We know that Shannon will help us move a number of strategic initiatives forward. She began her duties on February 28, and I hope that you will join me in welcoming her to our community.
The single most important function of elected officials is fiduciary oversight, and we take that responsibility very seriously.
Therefore, I could not be more pleased to report that Standard & Poor’s recently reaffirmed the Village of Lakewood’s long-term AAA Bond Rating.
Within its rationale, Standard & Poor’s states the following:
- Lakewood’s economy is strong;
- the Village’s budgetary flexibility is very strong and the budgetary performance is strong;
- and management conditions are strong with good financial practices.
This achievement is important to the Village of Lakewood for several reasons, the most important of which is it will lower the borrowing costs of any future debt obligations.
Staff is in the midst of preparing the budget for Fiscal Year 2014 – 2015 (which begins on May 1).
As in the past, we are committed to providing critical infrastructure improvements in the most cost effective manner possible and within a balanced budget.
At a recent State of the Community Luncheon, Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley presented a table that compares the property tax rates of municipalities in McHenry County.
As it shows, the Village of Lakewood has the second lowest property tax rate in the area (only the City of Crystal Lake is lower). This is a remarkable feat, especially given the disparity in commercial businesses between the Village of Lakewood and other communities.
RedTail Golf Club
A dedicated group of residents has been working over the winter months to develop a formal business plan for RedTail Golf Club. The plan will have three primary components:
- strategies for increasing average revenue per round,
- strategies for decreasing costs, and
- creation of a plan for funding capital repairs and improvements.
The plan is nearly complete and will be presented to the Board of Trustees within the next month or so. Thank you to Trustee Gene Furey for leading this effort.
As the national economy continues to improve, we have seen a definite increase in residential building. And we continue to believe that construction of the new hospital in Huntley (which is supposed to break ground as soon as weather permits) provides an excellent opportunity to market our community to employees of the new facility.
The Village of Lakewood has also been supportive of the effort by the Crystal Lake Park District to purchase property at the southern intersection of RedTail Drive and Ackman Road for the eventual construction of a recreation center. The development of the site in this manner will bring activity to the area and help support existing businesses and, hopefully, spur interest from new businesses.
As always, I encourage you to contact me or any of our officials with questions regarding any of the projects highlighted in the newsletter or that you might read about elsewhere.