Part 4 – Looking at Lakewood TIF and SportsPlex Documents

Below is the fourth section of my look at documents provided under the Freedom of Information Act by the Village of Lakewood:

A Feb.18th email from Karen Walker, whom I believe is involved in the financing end of the SportsPlex, seems to lead credence to Trustee Ken Santowski’s concern.

“Since the TIF is such a critical component of the bond financing, we need to demonstrate to potential investors that the TIF development and projected TIF revenues will be forthcoming;  any letters of interest would be very helpful.

“We introduced the TIF concept as a way to make the project financing marketable, as investors will not rely solely or mostly on projected revenue for a state-up project.

“The TIF was expected to cover 100% of the project’s TIF eligible costs – estimated as $58 million…[Emphasis added.]

“I will also reach out to you to discuss the TIF reimbursement for Sportsplex.”

Earlier February emails seem to say that the SportsPlex developers want more of a public subsidy than infrastructure.

Smith, Erin, Catherin Peterson, Michael Smoron

Village President Erin Smith, Village Administrator Catherine Peterson and Village Attorney Michael Smoron.

Here’s part of a Feb. 4th one from Village Attorney Michael Smoron to Walker:

“Keep in mind, Sportsplex is not making debt service payments directly but depositing its daily operating and ancillary receipts with the bond trustee.  The shared taxes/TIF receipts are being deposited with the trustee at least monthly from the State/other source.”  [Emphasis added.]

Also read this Feb. 5th one that Geoffrey Dickinson wrote the Village Attorney the following:

“Will be need another table/exhibit of sales tax eligible expense in the RDA then?

“It sounds like we have the least legal flexibility with that source, next least rif, most with flex biz district, right.”

In any event, the SportsPlex did not end up on the March 24th agenda. March 24th was two weeks before the April 7th election.

= = = = =
More tomorrow.


Part 4 – Looking at Lakewood TIF and SportsPlex Documents — 7 Comments

  1. May we see the emails (or any other communications) related to Affordable Housing placement in this tif?

    There is a report due in July, Lakewood must outline compliance plans related to Illinois Affordable Housing Act.
    Lakewood has below 3% Affordable Housing, with 10% required.

    Lakewood Tif students will be placed into Woodstock School District 200.

    Lakewood residents’ children attend Crystal Lake District 147 and district 155.

    Lakewood property taxes go to Crystal Lake District 147 and
    District 155.

    Property taxpayers in Woodstock District 200 will be entirely responsible for the costs of educating the
    Enrollment created by housing units developed in Lakewood tif.

    Woodstock District 200 annual cost per pupil is about $15,000.

    If 60 students (fair estimate for Lakewood compliance with Illinois Affordable Housing Act: 100 housing units below $90,000 in value), Woodstock D200 property taxpayers will be paying an extra $600,000 the first year (Illinois and Federal taxpayers may pay the other $300,000 annually).

    Because profitable tifs last 35 years, the inflation each year will raise this annual cost substantially (all the property taxes which would normally go to the school District to offset costs will instead be paid to Lakewood Village managers who may distribute this money to developers of her choice).

    So it is relevant to FOIA emails (or any other communications in every format) related to Affordable Housing, low income housing, housing development, rezoning, zoning, residential zoning, Affordable Housing Act compliance report, State of Illinois, or any other conceivable category which applies to the placement of high-density residential housing units in this tif district.

  2. May we see FOIA of Woodstock Fire & Rescue Contract negotiations as relates to the tif?

    As we all know, the taxpayers of Woodstock Fire & Rescue are responsible for all liability, debt, and retirement obligations of the District, while Lakewood enjoys a fixed-fee contract.

    Because the Lakewood tif represents as yet unspecified obligations to provide expanded Fire & Rescue services to the tif area (which might include high-rises, or thousands of children playing contact sports without 15 minute access to a Level One trauma Center service, for example), this is a terrific burden which should be scrutinized carefully when drawing up Lakewood WFRD contracts.

    Evidently This did not happen:

    WFRD Ordinances 192&198:

    Lakewood paid $809,992 to WFRD in 2014. This represents 12.6% of the total paid by legally obligated property taxpayers+Lakewood.

    Legally obligated taxpayers paid $5,629,779 to WFRD in 2014.

    This represents 87.4% of the total paid by legally obligated property taxpayers+Lakewood.

    Lakewood contracted to pay $830,000 to WFRD in 2015.

    This represents 12.6% of the total paid by legally obligated property taxpayers+Lakewood.

    Legally obligated taxpayers will pay $5754136 to WFRD in 2015.

    This represents 87.4% of the total paid by legally obligated property taxpayers+Lakewood.


    Lakewood EAV represented 18.76% of EAV total of WFRD+Lakewood in 2014.

    In 2015, Lakewood EAV rose, Woodstock F&R District EAV fell.

    In 2015, Lakewood EAV represents 19.64% of total EAV paying for WFRD, while WFRD-obligated property taxpayers’ EAV represent only 80.36%.

    So with only 80.36% of EAV, Woodstock taxpayers are obligated to pay 87.4% of the cost relative to Lakewood.

    AND, Woodstock taxpayers are obligated to guarantee ALL legal liability AND DEBT (Lakewood can simply cancel the contract and escape obligation).


    Legally obligated taxpayers are obligated for debt, liability, and pension obligations while Lakewood (a contract payer) is not.

    We are negligent if we do not examine the additional burden the Lakewood tif is anticipated to place on WFRD resources.

  3. Karen Walker of Siebert Brandford Shank?

    Good real life example of how village TIFs can obtain taxpayer money to subsidize private development.

  4. Info pulled from Siebert Brandford Shank website….Maybe she needs to KNOW there are and were never any “interested parties” other then the alleged “dead” Sportsplex…..

    Karen Walker Managing Director / Head of SBS Chicago Office
    Karen Walker, who joined Siebert Brandford Shank in April 2013, is a seasoned finance professional with more than 25 years of private and public sector experience, including public finance investment banking and public accounting.

    Ms. Walker joined the Chicago Transit Authority (“CTA”) in March 2009 as Chief Financial Officer & Executive Vice President. As CFO, she managed the Authority’s $1.3 billion operating budget and its $3 billion capital improvement plan, along with the treasury, capital development and comptroller functions. She was instrumental in enhancing revenues, controlling and reducing costs and improving efficiency. She completed more than $1 billion in capital financings for the CTA and executed $560 million in interest rate swaps. Most recently, the CTA tapped Ms. Walker to serve as Senior Advisor for Public Private Partnerships. In this role, Ms. Walker led the CTA’s efforts to finance $6 billion in capital projects. She also serves as a member of the CTA’s Retirement Board of Trustees, the Supplemental Retirement Plan Committee and the Deferred Compensation Committee.

    Ms. Walker served as Director of Financial Services at the Illinois Finance Authority from 2007-2009. She was responsible for the delivery of bond and loan financings to borrowers throughout the state of Illinois.

    Prior to joining the public sector, Ms. Walker worked as a public finance investment banker with A.G. Edwards, Banc of America and Merrill Lynch. She has structured and executed more than $20 billion in financings. Her work as senior manager for a Chicago Board of Education financing was recognized by Institutional Investor and Governing magazines as Deal of the Year.

    Ms. Walker started her career as an auditor with Ernst & Young and she is a former Assistant Chief Accountant with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. She is a Leadership Greater Chicago alum. She has a Master in Business Administration from the Anderson School and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois.

  5. There was not enough transparency from Lakewood in the Lakewood Route 176 / Route 47 TIF and the Sportsplex proposal.

    This is typical when a taxing district does not have at least one taxpayer watchdog reporting on the actions of the taxing district.

    And that is typical in Illinois (and most if not all states).

    Thus the fallacy of local control.

    Thus the fallacy of government for the people at a sustainable price, as in Illinois it’s all too often government for special interests at an unsustainable price, achieved by two favorite games, hide and seek, and kick the can.

    Special interests are inevitable, but Illinois takes it to another level, in what’s known as legal corruption.

    Thus the fallacy of sustainable government services at current taxation, at least in Illinois.

    There are many possible paths to sustainable government services at current taxation, although none without making a lot of people angry given the current situation at the Federal, State, and local levels in Illinois.

    One piece to the puzzle is to have organized taxpayer watchdogs.

    That’s a big task overall.

    It’s difficult to get people to volunteer, much less organize the volunteers and have a way for the volunteers to safely present their findings to the public (without being ganged up on and ostracized by special interests).

    The importance of volunteer taxpayer watchdogs is monumentally underestimated.

    No direct pay in that (indirectly save a some money in reduced taxes).

    A great way to serve your country is to become a taxpayer watchdog.

    It is way to easy for municipalities for spend TIF money, and too much happens behind closed doors and via emails & private conversations.

    And an example of how that plays out is the blog’s FOIA request to Lakewood about the TIF.

    The village was not a complete pushover, as the developer apparently wanted more TIF taxpayer money than the village was willing to provide.

    But the taxpayers never knew that until the FOIA results were reported by the blog.

  6. The village attorney Michael Smoron is a Lakewood resident who was able to successfully appeal his property taxes.

    State of Illinois
    Property Tax Appeal Board
    Synopsis of Representative Cases Decided by the Board During Calendar Year 2013

    Appellant: Michael Smoron
    Docket Number: 09-03825.001-R-1
    Date Decided: January, 20133
    County: McHenry
    Result: Reduction

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