Serwatka Says His Pay Will Go to Reforming Village Board

An email from Lakewood Village Trustee Paul Serwatka:

The Next IMPORTANT Step Toward Restoring Accountability and LOWERING our Property Tax Burden

Paul Serwatka

Paul Serwatka

When I first began my campaign to become your Lakewood Village Trustee, I pledged to FIGHT for the truth, transparency and accountability that so many residents knew was so desperately needed within our village board, as well as to work to LOWER the property tax burden for Lakewood families.

I also pledged to waive the small salary trustees are paid and to serve as a volunteer. To date, I continue to do exactly that.

Each month the village clerk cuts me a check (State and Federal income-taxes withheld) I then endorse the check and hand it right back to the village clerk.

After further consideration, however, I believe it more appropriate to use these funds in a manner that would more directly benefit “We, the Residents of Lakewood”.

This in mind, I am truly excited to share with you the next “phase” in working; to restore truth, transparency and accountability to our village board – and to lower the property tax burden for Lakewood residents – with the creation of:

The Lakewood Tax-Fighter & Better Government Project”.

The Project

“The Lakewood Tax-Fighter & Better Government Project” is the first of its kind – serving to promote and restore accountability in our local government and actually reduce property tax burdens for Lakewood families.

More specifically, the project aims to:

  • Expand awareness of pertinent village issues
  • Organize and engage Lakewood residents
  • Promote and restore truth, transparency and fiscally responsible policies
  • Reduce the property tax levy & lower property tax burdens
  • Identify & elect board members who pledge a firm dedication to all of these

 “The Lakewood Tax-Fighter & Better Government Project” was registered with the State Board of Elections in August, 2016. Registration information and Statement of Organization can be found on the State’s website:

Success of the Mission

With the creation of “The Lakewood Tax-Fighter & Better Government Project” – and with the contribution of my trustee salary, moving forward – we can really begin to increase our efforts toward restoring accountability to our village board and lowering our property tax burden in a very meaningful way.

To further assure the success of our mission, we will soon be able to accept contributions from village residents who share in these concerns, as well as others who have a vested interest in seeing our village thrive.

Something Entirely Different

There are many “feel-good”, and I believe disingenuous, “initiatives” out there claiming to stand for “Better Government” or “Property Tax Relief.”

Some have meetings, some hold protests, some collect data and ask for money – yet few of these ever seem to really achieve anything that actually affects the taxes we pay or, in any measurable way, impacts the quality of life for those who sign-on.

“The Lakewood Tax-Fighter & Better Government Project” will be something ENTIRELY DIFFERENT!

Our recent success in getting our Property Tax Levy Referendum on the November General Election ballot – and currently working to assure its overwhelming success at the ballot box, is just one small example of what The Project will achieve!

The Project will be a REAL, concerted effort of Lakewood residents that WILL yield REAL, TANGIBLE and MEASURABLE RESULTS for Lakewood residents and will noticeably and positively impact the quality of life for Lakewood families byrestoring accountable government and actually LOWERING our property tax burden!

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

I have complete confidence that The Projectalong with the support of Lakewood residents, will have a very REAL impact on restoring accountability to our village board and actually LOWERING our property tax burden.

To demonstrate my confidence – above and beyond the contribution of my village trustee salary – I have personally contributed $1,000 to get this fund off the ground and running!

“The Lakewood Tax-Fighter & Better Government Project” will “hit the ground running” this September. It will be a work in progress, and I will be sure to keep you updated as we go, as your support will be essential.

Remember, the tax dollars saved – will be your own!

A Work in Progress

The Project’s website: is currently being developed. We anticipate the site to be up and running by mid-September and we will strategically post each phase of our mission on the site at the appropriate times. Updates can also be monitored by following on facebook .

In the meantime, I implore you to continue to share this and all of our email/newsletters with Lakewood neighbors and encourage neighbors to subscribe to our email/newsletter by simply sending an email requesting so, to

The email/newsletter will continue to be the most expedient means of communicating important information with residents.

A Crossroads before us

We have reached a cross-roads in our village, today – a point where we can choose to have more of the same/business as usual – or we can actually choose to effect the change that so many in our village have wanted for so long. I sincerely hope you will be a part of the change.

“We are in the Midst of an Awakening in our Village…. Be a Part of it!”

As always, your thoughts, questions and concerns are always welcome and always valued.


Serwatka Says His Pay Will Go to Reforming Village Board — 12 Comments

  1. I sure wish you lived in my town You make me want to move to Lakewood ! and get out of this tax over – burdened township where in, which is very close…by

  2. Interesting considering Paul is one of 3 trustees to vote in favor of a more expensive fire and ems contract with CLFD at the 11/24/15 board meeting.

    Exactly how does the higher cost of fire protection reduce the tax burden for residents of Lakewood?

  3. “Linda” Wagner,

    First, Why don’t you come clean and speak publicly about how you, Linda Wagner, had a vested interest in Woodstock keeping their contract because of your husband, Ross Wagner and his pals being employed with Woodstock Fire Dept.

    Why don’t you also speak publicly about yours and your husbands efforts to contact trustees in the past asking them them to terminate the contract with Woodstock when Ross was unhappy with his treatment there.

    Second, you are incorrect, Woodstock contract was not less $$.

    Third, Woodstock contract did, however, offer less protection to residents! particularly emergency medical protection.

    Two former firefighters sit on that board and agree with this.

    And last, but not least, only one trustee, Gene Furey, voted against ending the contract with Woodstock.

    Trustee Furey, later, publicly stated that he hadn’t been given all the information, and in light of reviewing additional information, he, too, agrees that ending with Woodstock and going with Crystal Lake was the right decision.

  4. Please feel free to review the math regarding the terms of the contract in the documentation provided by CLFR — it is accurate that Lakewood will realize approx. $13k of savings for 2016 (not including any proceeds from the disposal of the leftover equipment).

    Over time however, the terms of the CLFR contract will be exponentially impacted by EAV growth and residents of Lakewood WILL PAY MORE than the financial terms in the WSFD proposal.

    I have all the documentation through my FOIA request, let me know what you want to see.

    I will also note there wasn’t truly a “bid process” between CLFR and WSFD because the fix with CLFD was in place as far back as March 2015 according to email correspondence between Catherine, Gary Mayerhofer (City of Crystal Lake) and Paul DeRaedt (CLFR), uncovered during my FOIA request.

    In addition, there is an email from one trustee to another dated 11/22/15 that states, “Really honked off at Catherine and Erin for not telling us they only want Crystal Lake…”.

    Yes Federal Farmer, the fix was ON, totally!

    My husband did contact multiple trustees in an effort to encourage them to bid out the fire service, because that is the way it should work.

    For the record, it is accurate my husband was a part-time employee (therefore he earns NO pension) of WSFD from 2002-2015 (October specifically).

    I have absolutely no vested interest other than I being a resident of Lakewood and fairly astute in realizing how much we pay for fire and ems protection and how much we will be paying going forward.

    Take out which fire departments were involved — it could have been Huntley or Cary or others, I don’t care.

    They are all quality.

    But the cost factors for the CLFD offer alone, coupled with no dedicated operational support for Lakewood, is rather absurd.

    Hey Federal Farmer — I am proud to use my name and don’t feel it necessary to hide behind a pseudonym.

    Keeping it classy 🙂

  5. The Lakewood TIF will impose a huge unfunded mandate on whichever taxing district is burdened with paying all costs for TIF ( while receiving no economic benefits) to supply fire and rescue services to the 640 acre TIF development including low income housing projects.

    Woodstock taxpayers are already burdened with costs of schooling TIF residents for 35 years, through predictable inflation, unless a sketchy contract can be enforced which shifts that cost burden exclusively onto Lakewood residents.

    (Luckily we have found a way to,enforce that contract).

    Imagine the capital costs of expansion of fire and rescue if highrises or taller office buildings are developed in TIF?

    The cost to supply mandated equipment ( or suffer the consequences of huge liability for not having done so) for the exclusive benefit of a non-taxed area of homes and businesses will be a bitter financial burden for CL taxpaying homeowners.

  6. WOW! Mr. Serwatka has been quite busy!

    We knew he meant business and he is proving that in no uncertain terms.

    Thank You, Paul Serwatka for all that you do and have yet to do, that we know you WILL do!

  7. A Lakewood Board of Trustees member:

    – formed a Taxpayer watchdog group,

    – has Taxpayer Facebook site,

    – formed a Taxpayer PAC named the Lakewood Tax-Fighter and Better Government Project, and

    – is developing a Taxpayer watchdog website,

    all this targeted at one municipality, the Village of Lakewood.

  8. We have already heard this before.

    Grafton Township residents do you recall.

    In order to lower RE taxes, someone else needs to pay such as businesses, industry and retail.

    I do not see that happening anytime soon.

    Since the state does not send the proper education funding to each school district, the tax payer must make up for that shortage.

    Are you aware that it takes an average of 3 homes RE taxed to fund a student per year ??

    Think about that.

    While I do not like paying taxes, I do not want any services cut.

  9. Angela, you have never heard this before.

    The project Paul speaks of here has never been done in Grafton or elsewhere.

  10. Linda

    Please accept that Woodstock Fire is NOT the best thing since sliced bread-not matter how you slice it!

    We’ve all heard your disgruntled comments over and over.

    But, thank you for finally admitting the husband works(ed?) for Woodstock Fire.

    Mr. Serwatka would have been all over it by now, if there were issues.

  11. The financial terms of the current fire service contract for Lakewood will be more expensive than the other proposal submitted.

    Paul was 1 of 3 trustees (joining Iden and Thomas) voting to approve the higher cost contract which is counter to his proposed plan of fiscal responsibility.

    Please note: I am referring to the terms of the contract and not that one department is superior to the other as the unnamed bloggers attempt to suggest.

    Thanks for the laughs by the way!

  12. Linda, I was at that meeting and subsequent meetings.

    1st – Trustee Santowski abstained from voting.

    This means two things.

    1- he had no opinion or was afraid to voice his opinion

    2- he was willing to allow hid vote to adjoin the others, as all trustees understand an abstention runs with the majority.

    2nd, trustee Furey acknowledged in a subsequent meeting that in light of reviewing additional information, he would currently change his vote and vote as Serwatka and the others did.

    Also, my understanding is that trustees Furey and Serwatka both have quite extensive backgrounds in the fire and emergency medical services and probably have a greater understanding of this issue than either of us.

    3rd, your assertion that the financial terms of this contract are more expensive is not accurate.

    That being said, I do seem to remember that this contract did provide for more personnel with higher training and skills. That being the case, it would be worth more anyway.

    Bottom line, you have an obvious agenda.

    We have faced so many bigger and more damaging issues in our villagev in recent months/years and your presence and your voice were non-existent.

    If you’re so concerned with our government spending and taxes you might want to be a bit more present on the many other issues… Not just the ones that affect your husband and his pals.

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