Here is the winter quarterly letter Lakewood Village President sent her constituents:
From the President
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we want to extend our very best wishes for a joyous holiday season to each of you and your families.
It is a busy time for all, so I will purposefully keep my remarks brief. However, there are a number of important issues that I want to highlight.
As this article is being written, there remains a stalemate in Springfield. The State continues to operate without a budget, which has placed a tremendous burden on many vendors and not-for-profit organizations. Units of local government have also been negatively impacted as the state had chosen to withhold the local portion of revenues from Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) and video gaming.
The Village of Lakewood does not utilize MFT revenues for operations (i.e. purchase of salt or snow plow efforts), nor are any capital roadway projects undertaken in anticipation of the receipt of MFT funds. In other words, we budget only what we have set aside. As this newsletter was about to be sent to the printer, the Village received notice that these funds are being restored.
The long term, conservative approach to budgeting that the Village of Lakewood has taken over the past decade continues to serve us well in these uncertain economic times.
This is especially evident by the recent action taken by the Board of Trustees to forego the increase available in the property tax levy and keep the revenues “flat” except to capture new growth.
As we begin to prepare for the start of the budget process after the New Year, please know that we will continue to strive to provide the highest quality services in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible in order to limit the property tax liability to our residents.
At our second meeting in November, the Board of Trustees faced a difficult decision about the provision of fire/rescue and paramedic services to our residents. For decades, these services had been provided by the Crystal Lake Fire Department (CLFD). Five years ago, however, the Woodstock Fire Rescue District (WFRD) stepped forward to provide these services to our residents. Both organizations are professional and more than capable of providing excellent services to our residents.
For me, the primary differentiation between the contracts was the long term funding of capital expenditures. Under the WRFD contract, the Village would continue to bear the full burden of any future capital expenditures, while the CLFD contract eliminates exposure to these costs.
The Board of Trustees was divided on this issue, but the majority voted to return to the CLFD effective January 1, 2016. A copy of both proposals can be found within the November 24, 2015 packet materials on the website.
We sincerely thank the men and women of the Woodstock Fire Rescue District for their outstanding support and efforts during these past five years.
Special Service Area #1 and #8
Twenty five years ago, a group of residents approached the Village of Lakewood with a request to create a Special Service Area (SSA) to provide for the long term maintenance and care of the Turnberry Lakes. SSA #1 was formed in response to this request, and it has provided a reliable source of revenue for the provision of these services to the Turnberry Lakes.
With SSA #1 expiring this year, many hours were spent researching options for how best to fund and continue providing these services in order to preserve the natural beauty and character of the Turnberry Lakes.
After numerous neighborhood meetings, residents came to a consensus to once again ask the Board of Trustees to create an SSA for the care and maintenance of the Turnberry Lakes. This lengthy process was finalized on November 24 with the creation of SSA #8, which will remain in effect for fifty years. The process was an excellent example of a public private partnership, and we thank all of the residents of the neighborhood for their input and exhaustive efforts to bring about this resolution.
East Side Sanitary Sewer System
During the past year, we have been reporting on the status of the East Side Sanitary Sewer System project that will allow treatment to occur at our wastewater treatment plant on Haligus Road.
In August of this year, two bids were received for the construction of this project.
The bids ranged from a low of $3,295,758 to a high of $4,041,821.
These figures were substantially more than the Engineer’s Estimate of $2,400,000. Input from contractors resulted in several technical modifications to the plans (most notably moving the lift station further west to reduce the depth of the sewer mains) and a revised timeframe to allow the work to begin in the winter.
With these changes, I am pleased to report that six bids were received, with the low bid being from Merryman Excavation at a cost of $2,117,787.
The Board of Trustees formally awarded the bid at the December 8 meeting, and the project is expected to begin early in 2016. Detailed information will be mailed to residents impacted by the project as soon as a timeline is finalized. Once the project begins, regular updates will be posted on the Village’s website.
2015 Roadway Program
The 2015 Roadway Program, which included repaving and adding bicycle lanes to Lake Avenue (from Huntley Road to the western corporate limits) and Lakewood Road has now been substantially completed. The overall cost of the project was $1,879,500. However, the Village was responsible for only 20% of the cost as the remaining 80% was paid for with federal highway funds. In 2017, Lake Avenue (from Huntley Road to the eastern corporate limits) will be repaved and bicycle lanes added. This project will also be paid for with 80% federal highway funds and 20% local funds.
We extend a thank you to all of the residents and motorists inconvenienced by these projects for your patience throughout the past several months!
While the quarterly newsletter is an important communication tool with our residents, it can not provide the most up-to-date information. In an attempt to address this issue, we have started to post our entire Board packet to our website in advance of each meeting, and I encourage you to read it regularly to gain an understanding of all the actions necessary to maintain our quality life in the Village of Lakewood. As always, please 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.
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Interestingly, there is no mention of the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District to which the Woodstock School District is objecting, the high end restaurant proposed to be sited where the Village Hall is located, the SportsPlex or the proposal to build condos at Turnberry Country Club.