Part 1 – Willson on Lakewood SportsPlex & TIF Documents

After I finished looking at the Village of Lakewood’s documents concerning the SportsPlex and its Tax Increment Financing District documents, I asked bond analyst Steve Willson to do so, too.

Below are his comments:

Notes on the Lakewood TIF FOIA dump 5/27/15

Steve Willson

Steve Willson

1. Much of the information we want was not given. We got emails referring to documents that are not attached, including the RDA, the proposed agreement with the developer — the SportsPlex.

A prime example of this is the 3/2/15 email ([Tom] Zanck to [Catherine] Peterson) about Section 18 “by adding the words ‘as a condition of construction’ I think you have killed any ability to sell bonds.” What is Section 18?

What is the exact subject?

We don’t know.

2. Note the Village has sought to have the Upper Illinois River Valley Development Authority issue the bonds instead of having the Village issue the bonds. (2/10/15 email from James Snyder to Michael Smoron)

3. I don’t know for sure what an “ERP” is. Best to ask Catherine Peterson. My best guess is it will be the “Enterprise Revenue Fund” — the fund through which all the revenues of the project (the SportsPlex) will run.

This type of lockbox operation is typical where there is concern about keeping control of the cash flow. Payments must be approved by the trustee before disbursement, and the trustee is supposed to make sure there is enough money there for bond repayment, and to make sure only legitimate operational payments are made.

4. China Business Wise is a small firm that seeks to bring Chinese investors and American business people together. Check out their web site. They don’t have an extensive record of accomplishment.

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More tomorrow.


Part 1 – Willson on Lakewood SportsPlex & TIF Documents — 5 Comments

  1. This project sounds like a variation on the plot of “The Producers”: raise $58 million in guaranteed public funding for a project requiring only $18 million private capital investment, and sell it to a target audience which is not concerned with profit so much as ancillary personal interests (citizenship obtainment).

    This makes the whole story a great topic for a Musical.
    More hearts and minds can be won thorough music and humor than logical arguments.

    How about: “Chicago Tif: The Musical”?

    Antagonist sings songs like: “Blight Is In the Eye Of The Beholder, (we can make the Gold Coast even Golder)”, and “But-For…ME! But-For ME! (you would BE–ass-deep–in decay and poverty)”

  2. Steve Willson has a wealth of information.

    He is key to addressing the issues of corruption, as it relates to financial matters and other issues.

  3. “How Taxpayers Get Fooled On The Cost Of An Artificial Turf Field”

    Story on Forbes :

    Why relevant?

    Woodstock D200 (the dumpee school district of Lakewood tif schoolchildren, requiring non-Lakewood taxpayers to pay entire cost of educating Lakewood tif children for the next 35 years) is entertaining the purchase of artificial turf to replace a perfectly functional grass sports field.

    WoodstockD200: taxes 2.7% of total home value (that is, $2700 per $100,000 of home value).

    Total property tax rate in Woodstock is 4.6% of total home value

    (that is, property tax of $9200 on a $200,000 home.)

    You could get a $920,000 home in California for that property tax rate. (California has a 1% property tax rate cap)

    You could get a $368,000 home in Massachusetts for that property tax rate (Massachusetts has a 2.5% property tax rate cap.

    American National average TOTAL property tax rate is 1.5% of total home value.

    That means you could live all over America and pay a total property tax bill about HALF what you pay to Woodstock D200 School District alone!

    Woodstock City has magnanimously offered a ‘donation’ toward this ‘artificial turf’ (very specifically).

    Woodstock City tax is .66% of total home value. ($660 per $100,000 of home value).

    Compare this to other municipalities around here….Woodstock charges a shockingly high rate.

    Woodstock has a tif, and seems to strain to make magnanimous ‘donations’ of tif money within a calendar year (D200 school Board meeting Board comments indicated that targeted donors for turf project wanted to get it done in the 2015 calendar year).

    Connections? Lakewood tif boosterism for Sportsplex suggests a connection to Astro Turf sales.

    See article about 2010 Sprotsplex incursion, and issues regarding connection with Artificial Turf salesman Gaouette

    Woodstock D200 Board has a duty to taxpayers.
    D200 debt is astronomical at over $150 million(principal plus accrued, owed interest), for a poor community with around $720 million EAV.

    Illinois statutes limit Unit school debt to 13.8% of EAV, yet D200 debt (principal plus accrued (legally owed) interest has burdened taxpayers with debt of 20.8% of EAV…which is the same as 6.9% of total home values.
    (Compare 6.9% of total home value pledged to school debt with neighboring school District CL D155&D47: Crystal Lake homeowners owe less than 1% of their total home values to school debt already incurred.)

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