Erin Smith’s Lakewood Letter

Erin Smith

Erin Smith

Four times a year, Lakewood Village President Erin Smith writes to her constituents.

Here is the summer edition:

Summer is finally upon us, and it presents numerous opportunities to take advantage of all of our outdoor activities – swimming, fishing, biking, walking, golf, etc. Summer is also a very busy time for municipal government as it is the start of our new fiscal year and the time to begin our capital projects.

Following is an update of projects and activities.

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District

There has been some confusion during the past few months about the status of the TIF District.

As a reminder, the TIF District was approved overwhelmingly by the Board of Trustees at our meeting on January 27, 2015.

Lakewood's proposed new TIF District where the money will be spent.

Lakewood’s proposed new TIF District where the money will be spent.

This action was the culmination of a process that began in July of 2014 when we retained SB Friedman Associates to conduct a feasibility study on the creation of a TIF District in the area of the Illinois Route 47 and Illinois Route 176 intersection.

Cathy Tryon and Mike Skala watch Mike Tryon sink a putt at the Crystal Woods Golf Club, which is in Lakewood's TIF District.

Cathy Tryon and Mike Skala watch Mike Tryon sink a putt at the Crystal Woods Golf Club, which is in Lakewood’s TIF District.

Per State Statute, there are a number of criteria that must be met in order to create a TIF District, including:

  • a majority of buildings more than thirty five (35) years of age;
  • lack of utilities (i.e. water and sewer); obsolete or a lack of planning;
  • decrease in equalized assessed valuation (EAV);
  • etc.

A copy of the final TIF District report is available for review at our website under “News” on the front page.

A TIF District gives the municipality the right to collect property taxes that are generated solely from the increase in property value within the TIF area and reinvest these incremental taxes in TIF eligible expenses such as infrastructure to support and sustain development.

No taxes based on current EAV are diverted to the development.

In 2014, there were twenty two (22) TIF Districts in municipalities throughout McHenry County.

There has also been some confusion about a $66M figure related to the creation of the TIF District.

Possible ways to spend the Lakewood TIF bond money.

Possible ways to spend the Lakewood TIF bond money.

Per State Statute, a municipality is required to create a projected budget based on anticipated incremental revenues over the twenty three (23) year life span of the TIF District and to allocate potential uses for these revenues.

In conjunction with the TIF consultant, the proposed budget for the TIF District was established at $66M. The budget is included with the TIF District report noted above.

Please note that the 23-year TIF budget is not a commitment to spend, but rather a list of possible expenses and $66M is the maximum amount that can be reinvested should the increase in property values generate these revenues.

The Board of Trustees has been unequivocal that no TIF bonds will be issued in anticipation of potential development and these revenues being received.

As such, the $66M figure is solely for broad planning purposes and is in no way tied to the issuance of debt.

Sports Complex

Several months ago, the Village was approached by a consortium with the potential development of a sports complex at the intersection of Illinois Route 47 and Illinois Route 176.

The second version of the SportsPlex will cover the following area, some of which is owned by the Village of Lakewood taxpayers.

The second version of the SportsPlex will cover the following area, some of which is owned by the Village of Lakewood taxpayers.

Once the necessary paperwork was filed and as required by law, public hearings were held to allow for public input and provide guidance to the staff about whether to engage in negotiations with the developer to draft a redevelopment agreement.

These negotiations are ongoing, and there are two critical issues remaining –

  1. the developer securing financing for the project and
  2. an urgent need for roadway improvements to the intersection at Illinois Route 47 and Illinois Route 176.
The improvements proposed for the southern intersection of Routes 176 and 47.

The improvements proposed for the southern intersection of Routes 176 and 47.  The country club can be seen to the south.  Swanson Road intersects with Pleasant Valley Road in the upper left hand corner of this rendering.

As a result of safety concerns, as well as the potential for significant development at this intersection, the Village has been tireless in its efforts to secure a commitment from the State of Illinois to make these necessary improvements.

Lakewood Road/Lake Avenue Roadway Improvements

It has been a long time in coming, but the Lakewood Road/Lake Avenue roadway improvements are finally underway. A more detailed article about the improvements themselves is included on page 6 of this newsletter, but there are several highlights I need to reiterate:

  • The total cost of the project is $1,879,500, but the Village secured a grant from the federal government to pay for 80% of the costs (or $1,503,600). Simply stated, these improvements would not be possible without the grant funds and are only one example of the grants secured by staff on a regular basis.
  • The addition of bicycle lanes to both Lakewood Road and Lake Avenue represent our ongoing commitment to enhance the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists in our community, as well as our overall commitment to the environment and sustainability.
  • Our enhanced website includes regular updates about the status of this project, which is another example of our commitment to enhancing communications with residents.

Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as these projects progress throughout the summer.

East Side Sewer

The good news is that the Village has been successful in securing a long term, low interest loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) to fund the project. Specifically, the terms of the loan are twenty (20) years at an interest rate of 2.21%.

The eastern part of Lakewood (mainly Country Club Additions) where Crystal Lake proposes to increase sewage treatment rates by enough to make it economically feasible to sent its sewage to Lakewood's plant.

The eastern part of Lakewood (mainly Country Club Additions) where Crystal Lake proposes to increase sewage treatment rates by enough to make it economically feasible to sent its sewage to Lakewood’s plant.

This positive news was somewhat muted by the bids that were received for the project last month, which were higher than the engineer’s estimate.

We have spoken with both the contractors who submitted proposals and those who requested packets but did not submit proposals.

There were clearly two primary reasons for the escalation in costs.

  • First, the time required to obtain the IEPA loan delayed the process such that contractors had already secured their work for the summer and fall construction seasons. Several contractors expressed strong interest in the project but were unable to start until late fall.
  • The second issue is the “uncertainty” surrounding the project given the variable water table on the East Side. There are a few relatively minor modifications that can be made to the project specifications to address these issues, and that process is underway. More information will be forthcoming as soon as it is available.

We will continue to explore all options for the completion of this project. In the meantime, residents of the East Side should know that any summer plans (i.e. hosting graduation or 4th of July parties) will not be negatively impacted by construction this summer.

Development

It was our pleasure to participate in the grand opening of the new Edward Jones Office at Lakewood Commons on May 20. We welcome Financial Advisor Steve Middaugh and his staff to our growing business community!

Not only are a number of new homes under construction at Woodland Hills, but also throughout the community. In our Fiscal Year 2015 – 2016 Budget, we established a goal of the construction of twenty new homes throughout the community.

I would be remiss if I did not congratulate Trustees Carl Davis and Ken Santowski on their reelection to the Board of Trustees. We also welcome Trustee Paul Serwatka, as he was sworn in on May 12.

Finally, we sincerely thank Trustee Gary Sexson II for his years of service to the community and especially his commitment to Celebrate Lakewood and our local businesses.


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