Debate on Lakewood Issues Continues

A reply from Steve Wilson to the comment made by Jason McMahon:

Jason, let’s examine your comments one by one.

First, “A portion of the property is needed for intersection improvements at 176 and 47.”

Until yesterday, I had a big misunderstanding about what the Route 47 and Route 176 road improvement project consisted of. Foolishly, I guess, I though the dog leg was going to go away. From this map one can see only Pleasant Valley Road is going to be aligned with the northern intersection of Route 14 with Route 176.

If indeed a portion of the property was needed for “improvement”, then purchasing that portion and only that portion could be justified.

However, that word “improvement” is used awfully loosely with regard to road projects.

Can you show the tangible benefit of the proposed changes?

Can you compare that with the total cost?

Only if the value exceeds the cost can you claim that portion is justified.

As for the rest, it was not justified.

Next “Selling off property at a loss, simply for the sake of selling it makes you a TAX WASTER.”

No, Jason, keeping property the Village has no business owning is a tax waste.

Trying to divine the market and time the sale is real estate speculation, and that is not the business of ANY Village Board — not the last one and not the one coming into office.

Next “Selling Village assets and reducing cash reserves may temporarily and artificially reduce taxes for ONE year but it could also negatively affect the Village bond rating.”

Jason, no one suggested using the proceeds of the sale for a one-time large reduction.

A better idea would be to spread the proceeds over, say, a ten year period to reduce our taxes.

After all, the property was purchased with our taxes, and that the Village had enough money for the purchase shows they have been over-taxing us for years.

As for the bond rating, that’s not going to drop if the money is drawn down slowly.

Next “Selling Village assets and spending cash reserves to reduce taxes is similar to a person spending money from their savings account and pretending their expenses for the year were less because they did not need more income.”

No, it’s not, because it’s OUR money — the TAXPAYERS’ money.

In a perfect world, the government would take in exactly what was needed to cover necessary expenditures.

As the world isn’t perfect, in any given year, the government may run a small surplus or a small deficit.

But over time, those should balance out.

The only reason to keep a modest fund balance is to cover uneven cash flows throughout the year. Moody’s considers a fund balance equal to 8% of expenditures to be adequate.

But if the Village has large fund balances, then, as I said above, it’s because they over taxed us for years.

Next, “Developing commercial property in Lakewood is the only real solution to a tax reduction.”

No, Jason, there’s another obvious solution: cut expenditures.

That you fail to even entertain that idea is a particularly disturbing statement from a public official.

Finally, “No Village Board is going to approve residential development in that area.” [47 & 176]

One would hope so.

But we’ve seen Village Boards do other stupid things, like buy golf courses and sign TIF agreements putting Lakewood’s taxpayers on the hook for expenditures by a school district of which they aren’t part.

We’ve seen school districts build bleachers without permits and then use the taxpayers’ money to fight a losing suit all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Based on my years of experience with local government,

I lack your faith, which is why I prefer that local governments simply stay out of such situations.


Debate on Lakewood Issues Continues — 15 Comments

  1. That Lakewood TIF will site residential development is not speculation it is a certainty.
    Lakewood passed a resolution to do so.

    This was done to address Lakewood’s deficiency in affordable housing relative to the Illinois Affordable Housing Act.

    Lakewood had to present a report to Illinois as to curing the deficiency.

  2. Have not seen an estimate by IDOT, the county, township, or any other entity, of how much traffic on Pleasant Valley Road will increase once the alignment of Pleasant Valley Road and State Route 176 is completed.

    Nor if increased traffic would necessitate improvements to other sections of Pleasant Valley Rd, given that the alignment will result in a state highway feeding directly into a secondary road.

    What will be the shortcut of choice to gain access to/from the northern/western section of Route 176: Dean St, Sunnyside Drive, McCue Rd, or Peterson Olson Rd?

    Possible future traffic light at such an intersection.


    Have not seen a ball park estimate to create one intersection (instead of two) of Route 176 & Route 47.

    That seems like a very expensive project.

  3. Mark, if I’m not mistaken, they just spent millions redoing the northern part of that intersection a few years ago.

  4. Susan – Do you have a copy of the resolution or know when it was passed?

    My understanding is Lakewood proposed retirement facilities as a solution to the IAHA and not residential.

    If you have information to the contrary, it would be very helpful.

    Thank you.

  5. Jim B – I have extended an offer to meet with anyone that is interested.

    To date, only the person using his real name has taken me up on that offer.

    Why insult someone you have never met?

  6. I have repeatedly cited this resolution in this blog.

    It was in summer of TIF formation.

    It was no surprise as the fact that Lakewood is not in compliance with Illinois Affordable Housing Act was raised during TIF formation process.

    Do your own homework.

  7. Thanks for the graphic and the caption, Cal.

    After looking at it, I’m more doubtful than before that change=improvement.

    Let’s be clear: the two-part, turn-right, turn-left intersection at 176 & 47 is stupid.

    It also exists, so the marginal cost is zero.

    Smoothing it all out will remove one traffic light.

    That means the average motorist will save 30 seconds.

    Is that worth millions of dollars?

    Could be, but I’d like to see some very specific cost-versus-benefits numbers before I sign on.

    The issue of safety has also been raised, but with the recent change at the northern part of this intersection — putting in a traffic light — my guess is that safety is no longer nearly as big a concern.

    Again, I could be wrong, but I’d like to see definitive evidence before millions of dollars are spent.

  8. whats missed is the questionable annexation of the properties to allow Lakewood to even get to route 47!

    This is going to come into play at some time and hopefully wont end up in a lawsuit which will cost Lakewood taxpayers even more money

  9. Not insulting the person, only the idea of Lakewood being involved at all at 176 & 47.

    Lakewood simply does not have the staff or assets to embark on major commercial developments.

    Next, the Village would need a Village Planner, a Building Commissioner, a zoning enforcement officer, and many other employees with accompanying benefits and pensions.

    Lakewood is not and never has been competent to proceed in this direction.

  10. Jason,

    See ordinance 2015-21 and the approval of Lakewood’s affordable housing plan dated July 28, 2015.

    It specifies the TIF district as location for 100+ units of affordable housing.

    I believe this is what Susan was referencing.

  11. A thought occurs to me. 47 and 176 are both state highways.

    They will buy the land needed for any improvement”.

    They will pay for construction.

    How does Lakewood owning that land help our taxpayers out at all?

  12. The project is to align Pleasant Valley Road with the SE portion of State Route 176, as they both intersect with With State Route 47.

    Pleasant Valley Road is not a state Road.


    Another issue of safety is, after the project is complete, allowing easier access traffic of the more flat terrain westbound I-176, which is wider (and has a higher speed limit?), onto the narrower, more curvy, and more hilly ( with a slower speed limit) Pleasant Valley Road.


    Often in road construction there is a sharing of some combination of Federal, state, county, township, and municipal dollars, depending on the project.


    Sometimes municipalities have the smallest piece of land extending out to annex new land.

    Chicago annexing the land on which O’Hare Airport now lies is one example.


    Will be interesting to see how the Lakewood TIF, and the area around Route 23 & I-90 in Marengo, develops.

    Not sure if Marengo or the County have any TIFs in that latter area yet, or if the state has any development zones or incentives.

    And it seems about every major municipality in the County has at least one TIF.

    In general, a lot of economic incentives with not a lot of public scrutiny.

    One generally has to look through TIF reports and board minutes to get a sense for who is receiving what.

  13. Thank you Linda for your assistance. It is greatly appreciated.

  14. Re: “They will buy the land needed for any improvement”.

    They will pay for construction. ”

    WE are the proverbial THEY!!

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