Lakewood TIF Plan Draws Opposition from Serwatka

The Lakewood Village Board is meeting tonight at 7 PM at the village’s RedTail Golf Clubhouse.

One of the items that will be on both the Woodstock District 200 School Board meeting agenda and on Lakewood’s is a measure to compensate D200 for children that may live in housing that may be built in Lakewood’s Tax Increment Financing District.

Village Trustee Paul Serwatka has sent out the following email urging Lakewood residents to attend the meeting:


Tonight’s village board meeting will be held at Redtail Golf Club at 7:00p.m. There are two items of particular concern for which I encourage you to attend.

First – A recent FOIA request regarding the substantial development and expansion of the Turnberry Country Club as well as the Redtail Golf Course area has raised many concerns and questions from residents throughout the village. Particularly those in the Turnberry, Loch Glen and Redtail sections.

Many residents have asked for an opportunity to speak and to ask questions of village officials/staff and to have a dialogue beyond just limited “public comments”.

While parliamentary procedures of village meetings typically do not allow for this type of open, two-way dialogue, I am going to make a motion to suspend the parliamentary rules during the public comments period, to allow for this dialogue to take place. My motion will then need to be “seconded” and voted on by the board. I see no reason why any board member would not be willing to vote to allow this dialogue to take place.

Second – Agenda item 12 (See Pages 3 and 166 of the board packet at the link below) is an ordinance authorizing an intergovernmental agreement between the village of Lakewood and Woodstock school Dist-200.


Paul Serwatka's sign hits property taxes, the Tax Increment Financing District and the SportsPlex.  It went up the second week of March.

Paul Serwatka’s sign hits property taxes, the Tax Increment Financing District and the SportsPlex. It went up the second week of March.

To be brief: Woodstock is concerned (and rightfully so) that because the Lakewood TIF Dist created at Rt 47 and Rt 176 includes Woodstock’s school dist (D-200) they would incur the costs of education of the children of any residential development that would occur within the TIF Dist.

You may remember, I spoke of this quite a bit during my campaign to become your village trustee.

Essentially, in this agreement, our village is guaranteeing that, should any residential development occur within the TIF dist, additional tax dollars will be collected from Lakewood residents outside the TIF Dist (YOU AND ME) to reimburse Woodstock in the amount of $8,680 PER STUDENT/PER YEAR plus annual increases to allow for inflation according to the CPI.

This property tax increase would be for the remainder of the TIF which is between 23 years and 35 years.

Here is a link to a recent Northwest Herald article covering this proposed Intergovernmental agreement.

I hope to see you tonight!

Board Packet/Agenda:


Lakewood TIF Plan Draws Opposition from Serwatka — 30 Comments

  1. God Bless, Mr Serwatka !

    Glad to have him on the Lakewood board, will be glad to have him as a State Rep. too!!

    He sees the injustice that Lakewood President is trying to pull on Woodstock and it looks like D200 isn’t even smart enough or ethical enough to put a stop to it!

  2. Repeat: Woodstock D200 isn’t even smart enough or ethical enough to put astop to it!

    Woodstock School Board is destroying our reputation.

    Taxpayers and their families can no longer rely on the Board’s ‘good intentions’

  3. TIF WAIVER is Evidence of Woodstock D200 School Board Loyalty to Lakewood Interests

    Woodstock Illinois, D200: Property tax rates 4.6% of total home value.

    Median income and lower households must pay over 12% of household income JUST for property tax.

    Why bring this up again, in relation to the tif waiver about to be signed?

    It is evidence.

    It is evidence that this D200 school board’s loyalty does NOT lay with its community or its children whose college funds this school board is draining.

    So I won’t waste time appealing to logic or honor, it is clear this school board has decided to sign this ‘TIF WAIVER’.

    The TIF WAIVER will be titled something with ironic sophistry in the same spirit as the “Affordable Care Act”.

    But we all know better what this document is designed to accomplish.



    When this Superintendent postured strong loyalty to Woodstock at the 12-15-15 board meeting by proposing a resolution to initiate litigation against Lakewood’s improper tif, he even had me convinced that finally the people of Woodstock D200 had a sincere advocate.

    But the public meeting that night was just posturing, designed to mollify concerned citizens.

    In an email dated 12-16-15: Lakewood manager to D200 Superintendent reads in part:

    “…A copy of D200’s independent analysis of the tif would also be appreciated”.

    And D200 Superintendent’s reply:

    “I can have a copy of the report prepared for you and left at our front desk…”

    And further reply in part:

    “but all we want is to ensure any D200 Students that move into TIF have corresponding property tax money coming into the district to allow for their education. That is truly our only issue or concern.”

    Our school Superintendent was Not concerned that a breakeven payment-in-lieu-of-taxes simply maintains status quo of a 4.6% property tax rate which has devastated home values in this community.

    Not concerned that all hopes of desperately needed future property tax revenue are rendered impossible by virtue of this improperly formed tif.

    This email exchange is not evidence of a D200 school representative in a disputed cause advocating for the best interests of his community, it is evidence of obsequious toadying to demonstrate his loyalty to a common cause—that cause being the best interests of Lakewood managers.

    And apparently this only possible advocate we Woodstock taxpayers could have had as plaintiff in this disputed cause of action just turned over “D200’s independent analysis of the tif” to the defendant.

    At least Bill Belichick had to exert a little effort to get that kind of information from an opponent.

    All Lakewood had to do was ask.

  4. Now let us examine this TIF WAIVER the school board intends to sign tonight.

    DOES it extinguish the concern that ‘D200 students that move into TIF have corresponding property tax money coming into the district to allow for their education’?


    And evidence of this was communicated to D200 and board, and yet here we stand with this school board about to sign a TIF WAIVER which conveys great benefit to Lakewood managers at the expense of Woodstock D200 taxpayers.

    Is $8680 the annual average cost of educating a student in the school district? No. according to the latest published CAFR it is $15,532.

    The TIF WAIVER language should reflect that the annual cost per pupil being currently $15,532 contains the local cost component which is derived from property taxes and is equal to X. With X being Levy divided by enrollment.

    Why is this language discrepancy so important? Because inevitably there will be litigation by TIF bondholders or Lakewood taxpayers to claw back these novel PILOT payments designed to circumvent the

    Illinois TIF statute which clearly limits tif-related PILOTS.

    And due to a curious loser-pays clause in this TIF WAIVER, the legal fees D200 will have to risk then make the ones today seem paltry by comparison.

    Language falsely indicating that the entire costs of education of a student in this school district is only the local component will be very damaging to Woodstock in that future litigation.

    IS $8680 the actual local cost? Latest levy is $59.1 million dollars. Latest enrollment according to Illinois State Board of Education is 6609.

    That makes cost per student per year to local taxpayers $8942. That is $262 more per student than the TIF WAIVER resolves to pay.

  5. Now, the inflation adjustment called for in the TIF WAIVER is pegged to the CPIU Chicago. This CPI has risen 15-to-17% in the latest ten periods of measurement, 2006-2015.
    During that same 10 year period, District 200 levy has risen 49%, with flat enrollment.

    Evidence that this disparity is not an anomaly, but rather a trend continuing after a decade of consistent spending in excess of inflation:

    in this period, D200 total annual expenditures have nearly doubled and FTE employment is up 24% with flat enrollment.

    What does this statistical inflation disparity measure indicate for the taxpayers in Woodstock D200 school district, based upon an initial assumption of $8680 local cost per student in 2016?

    Ten years from now the Woodstock taxpayers will be charged $12933 per student per year, while Lakewood will only be obligated to pay $10,069.

    Ten years after that, Woodstock taxpayers will be paying $19270, while Lakewood will only be obligated to pay $11,680.

    By year thirty of the tif, Woodstock taxpayers will be paying $28712 annually per student, while Lakewood will only be obligated to pay $13549.

    When the tif ends in year 35, Woodstock taxpayers will be paying $35603 annually per student, while Lakewood will only be obligated to pay $14633.

    This school board ignoring this evidence in order to sign a TIF WAIVER for the direct benefit of Lakewood managers at the direct expense of Woodstock D200 taxpayers is inexplicable.

  6. We need to find out what’s in it for them that they would sell out their own friends/neighbors/constituents.

    A golf course lot, perhaps?

    Free lifetime membership to the spa-resort Erin Smith wants to put in?

    or something else we’re not privy to?

    Sad state of affairs, Politics in McHenry County.

    We have seen the Erin Smith “the Hillary Clinton of McHenry County” act in her own self serving interests long enough!

  7. Shelli, Paul can’t help that he’s a minority.

    If that renders him ‘ineffective’ it doesn’t mean that he’s trying.

    He’s the only one with morals on that board of Lakewood.

    I see no others stepping out of lockstep with Erin Smith and her evil intentions!

  8. For clarity’s sake, I seem to recall the deadline to file suit by D-200 is tomorrow (1/27) yet the D-200 board is only taking up the matter of an intergovernmental agreement tonight, but not a vote on whether to proceed with the suit, correct?

    So what happens if either D-200 or, given Mr. Serwatka’s position, the Village fails to ratify the agreement?

    Is it too late to approve and file a legal challenge?

    And, therefore, is the Village off the hook to pay D-200 for any enrollment coming out of the TIF because the clock ran out?

  9. There is a simple, equitable solution.

    If Lakewood is being honest, it should have no trouble selling Crystal Lake school districts on this TIF WAIVER deal.

    Simply arrange an amicable detachment-annexation of the tif property OUT of Woodstock D200 and INTO the Crystal Lake school districts which now educate all Lakewood children and receive all Lakewood property tax dollars.

  10. Paul brags about how effective he is but I reality it was Erin Smith that froze the tax levy.

    He’s all sizzle and no steak.

  11. Good point Coffey.

    Yes, it is widely agreed that Jan 27 is the one year mark from birth of the TIF.

    However, material changes occurred on July 28 2015, and that may allow for argument that the clock starts at that point.


    D200 officials ‘allowing the clock to run out’ may be negligent, be an act of official misconduct, but the penalty (nothing?) for that may pale in comparison to whatever is motivating their inexplicable loyalty to Lakewood’s best interests.

  12. Superintendent could motion to vote on tabled motion to file suit.

    That complaint is prepared, it only needs be filed tomorrow

  13. Shelli/Allen Skillicorn – You seem to be attempting to project your own inadequacies onto others.

    It’s funny that Erin Smith, as you say, had never frozen the levy in all her years as President or trustee.

    In fact, they asked for maximum raises every year for over a decade.

    I do, however, seem to remember your effort to Ban the Red Light cameras.

    All your so-called effort and the end result?

    Dismal failure!

  14. Susan,

    I don’t think its legally permissible for the D-200 board to vote/take action on an item that is not on the published agenda.

    That’s an OMA violation.

    From the today’s official agenda, the description is: “Approval of Intergovernmental Agreement”

    For action approving a lawsuit, there would already have to be an item on today’s Agenda similiar to the 12/15/15 Agenda:

    “Approval of Resolution Authorizing Lawsuit against the Village of Lakewood Seeking Dissolution of the Illinois Route 47 and Illinois Route 176 TIF District”.

    All they can legally do tonight is approve or reject the intergovernmental agreement.

  15. Well there you go.

    You know, we BEGGED the Superintendent and the school board chairwoman (a practicing attorney) to get a tolling agreement over a month ago.

    Any suggestions for follow up?

  16. Since D-200 previously had an Agenda item that required board approval to authorize a lawsuit, one can conclude that filing a lawsuit requires board approval.

    And, given that the filing deadline is tomorrow, and there is no Agenda item for tonight that allows them to legally approve/authorize a lawsuit to be filed by tomorrow, it appears that the lawsuit option no longer exists.

    It would seem that, at this point, D-200’s best/only option is this intergovernmental agreeement.

    With the threat of a lawsuit now removed, what is Lakewood’s motivation to approve the agreement?

    Given Mr. Serwatka’s agruments above, it would seem as though rejecting the agreement eliminates Lakewood from any future financial commitment to D-200.

  17. We the people should be listening to and supporting Paul Serwatka.

    He is one of our greatest advocates.

  18. The Intergovernmental Agreement is actually a TIF WAIVER.

    If D200 refuses to sign it (it is a rotten deal from Woodstock taxpayers’ perspective), it can be argue=d that the time to file suit is extended beyond tomorrow.

    Also, D200 can push for detachment-annexation into Lakewood schools.

    Or it can at least get out of the way while citizens do that.

    Lakewood citizens have the power to press for dissolution of the improperly formed tif.

    Also, D200 is not the only injured party.

    Other taxiing bodies could file suit against Lakewood to dissolve the improperly formed tif, like the County Board.

  19. Has the county board taken an official position on the Lakewood TIF?

    I believe at least 2 of the county board members have publically spoken in opposition of the Lakewood TIF but am unsure the majority.

  20. Northwest Herald

    Updated: Woodstock School District 200, Lakewood to consider agreement on TIF

    Monday January 25, 2016 12:21 AM

    Updated: Tuesday Janyary 26, 2016 2:29 pm

    by Allison Goodrich and Emily K Coleman

    “The intergovernmental agreement would hold the village responsible for reimbursing the school district for each student residing in the TIF district, school district documents show.”


    Northwest Herald

    Woodstock School District 200 holds off on lawsuit over Lakewood TIF

    Thursday December 31, 2015 1:03 PM

    Updated Friday January 1, 2016 12:37 AM

    by Allison Goodrich

    “The TIF, which is centered on the intersection of Routes 47 and 176, was approved by village officials in January 2015.

    The purpose is largely to extend water and sewer utilities to the area, the Northwest Herald has previously reported.”


    Northwest Herald

    Woodstock School District 200 board tables lawsuit over Lakewood TIF

    Wednesday December 16, 2015 1:12 PM

    updated Thursday December 17, 2015 12:15 AM

    by Allison Goodrich

    “I don’t think we will be opposed to principals protecting the school district from residential development.”

    – Lakewood Village President, Erin Smith


    Northwest Herald

    Woodstock School District 200 considers lawsuit over Lakewood TIF

    Friday December 11, 2015 11:14 PM

    updated Friday December 11, 2015 11:14 PM

    by Allison Goodrich

    “Part of the TIF district falls within the boundaries of District 200.”


    Village of Lakewood Trustees
    Carl Davis, term May 2015 – May 2019
    Gene Furey, term May 2013 – May 2017
    Jeff Iden, term May 2013 – May 2017
    Kenneth Santowski, term May 2015 – May 2019
    Beverly Thomas, term May 2013 – May 2017
    Paul Serwatka, term May 2015 – May 2019 > Government > Village Officials


    Woodstock District 200 School Board
    Carl Gilmore – Vice President
    Russ Goerlitz – Secretary
    Camille Goodwin – President
    Paul Meyer
    Jerry Miceli
    Bill Nattress
    David Shinherr


    So many golf courses so close together.

    Red Tail Golf Club
    7900 Redtail Drive
    Lakewood, Illinois
    Owned by the village of Lakewood.

    Turnberry Country Club
    9600 Turnberry Trail, Lakewood.
    Privately owned.
    1 mile (3 minutes) from the Village of Lakewood’s Red Tail Golf Club.

    Crystal Woods Golf Course
    5915 S Route 47, Woodstock, Illinois (or is it now Lakewood?)
    Privately owned, was located in Woodstock, has Lakewood annexed the property before, during, or after the creation of the Lakewood Route 47 & Route 176 TIF?
    The website is down.
    6 miles (10 minutes) from the Village of Lakewood’s Red Tail Golf Club.

    Craig Woods Golf Course
    5915 S Route 47, Woodstock, Illinois (or is it now Lakewood)
    Privately owned, was located in Woodstock, has Lakewood annexed the property before, during, or after the creation of the Lakewood Route 47 & Route 176 TIF?
    The website is down.
    6 miles (10 minutes) from the Village of Lakewood’s Red Tail Golf Club.

    Crystal Lake Country Club
    721 Country Club Road, Crystal Lake
    2 miles (6 minutes) from the Village of Lakewood’s Red Tail Golf Club.

    Pinecrest County Club
    11220 Algonquin Road, Huntley
    Formerly a private club, the Huntley Park District assumed management in June 2003.
    5 miles (10 minutes) from the Village of Lakewood’s Red Tail Golf Club.

    Terrace Hill Golf Course
    4015 West Algonquin Road, Algonquin, Illinois
    Private Golf Club.
    4 miles (10 minutes) from Lakewood’s Red Tail Golf Club


    Two of the golf courses are in the TIF annexed to the Village of Lakewood.

    Are the Crystal Woods and Craig Woods golf courses struggling to turn a profit?

    Do the owners of Crystal and Craig Woods want to get out of the golf club business?

    Does the Lakewood TIF provide an indirect developer subsidy by extending utilities to the TIF district?

    Are there other indirect and direct subsidies?

    If a private golf course owner wants to get out of the golf course business, two avenues to pursue are selling to a park district, or creation of a TIF, both of which involve taxpayer dollars.


    How did the working golf courses become eligible for this TIF (Tax Increment Financing)?

    “Conservation” is the key concept.

    A TIF consultant, SB Friedman Development Advisors, was hired by the Village of Lakewood, to perform a TIF Eligibility Study.

    (The TIF Eligibility Study is on the village website, but notably absent from the village website is the parcel level historical data used in the analysis…as is the case with every or almost every TIF Eligibility Study.)

    A “Redevelopment Project Area” (RPA) was designated consisting 37 parcels.

    The Crystal Woods and Craig Woods Golf Clubs were 3 of the 37 RPA parcels.

    The way it works in general, is the TIF consultant looks at all parcels in the TIF, and rather than each parcel qualifying individually for TIF status, it’s the totality of the parcels that enables the RPA to become TIF eligible.

    It’s unknown if the 3 golf club parcels would have qualified by themselves, but grouped with the 37 parcels, SB Friedman concluded they did qualify.

    For this TIF, each parcel was designated as “Blighted” or “Conservation.”

    The golf courses were designated “Conservation.”

    Conservation has a specific meaning in TIF law that has nothing to do with a Conservation District.

    To overgeneralize and use layman’s terms for the purpose of clarification, Conservation in TIF law means the parcel is not yet blighted, but may become blighted if nothing is done, so therefore the parcel should be treated and improved.

    For those who desire legal details, refer to the Illinois Municipal Code, Division 74.3 – Business District Development and Redevelopment Law.

    “Conservation” can only apply to “Improved Land” (not “Vacant Land”) in Illinois TIF law.

    The Crystal Woods and Craig Woods Golf Courses were designated as “Improved Land” (not “Vacant Land”).

    Within the “Conservation” “Improved Land” classification, there are several ways to qualify for TIF status.

    More specifically, from the TIF Eligibility study:

    Conservation areas must have:
    – a minimum of 50% of the total structures within the area aged 35 years or older,
    – plus a combination of three (3) or more additional eligibility factors that are detrimental to public safety, health, morals or welfare,
    – and which could result in such an area becoming a blighted area.

    Using information obtained from the Village and the County Assessor’s Office, the TIF consultant determined 24 of the 45 buildings in the TIF (53%) are 35 years of age or older.

    The TIF consultant also determined the following 4 factors were present in the “Conservation” “Improved Land” parcels.

    – Lack of Growth in Equalized Assessed Value (“EAV”)
    – Inadequate Utilities
    – Lack of Community Planning
    – Presence of Structures below Minimum Code Standards

    The TIF consultant then wrote about 1/2 page of justification for each in the TIF Eligibility Study.


    Also in the TIF Eligibility Study, the TIF consultant concluded the Crystal Woods and Craig Woods Golf Clubs were further categorized under “Existing Land Use” as “Recreation / Open Space.”

    Existing Land Use > Recreation/Open Space.


    So that’s how two working golf courses were designated TIF eligible.

  21. The Village President does not get a vote unless there is a tie.

    There was not on the levy.

  22. Susan, the Lakewood vote tonight to accept the intergovernmental agreement with District 200 was as follows:

    Trustee Davis Yes
    Trustee Furey Yes
    Trustee Iden Abstain
    Trustee Santowski No
    Trustee Serwatka No
    And after a long pause…Trustee Thomas Yes

  23. My compliments to many people here tonight for providing so much useful information.

    Much more detail for any interested voter than they will ever find in the Herald.

    How many people were at the meeting and was the Turnberry issue discussed as well?

  24. If trustees Iden, Furey and Thomas have any dignity, whatsoever, they will retire from their disservice as trustees when their term expires in 2017.

  25. Woodstock D200 passes TIF Waiver, with one ‘No’ vote

    Comments by Woodstock D200 board before voting indicated that the primary reason many members agreed to the Tif Waiver was that the lawsuit against Lakewood would be too expensive, and it could lose, then D200 would be left with nothing.

    One member voted no to the Tif Waiver, citing concern that the additional pension payment burdens and lowered State funding would cause the Lakewood tif payments to fall short of actual costs to educate Lakewood tif students.

    He also stated his belief that the legality of this agreement would be challenged.

    Woodstock taxpayers owe many thanks to Paul Serwatka for spearheading an effort to vote down the Tif Waiver on the Lakewood side.

    How wonderful to see such a principled officeholder.

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