Local tax fighter seeks village presidency
Trustee Paul Serwatka is running for Lakewood Village president on a platform of reform, transparency and lower taxes that he calls, "Promoting and Restoring Accountable Government.”
Rising property taxes and spending are the “most concerning issues Lakewood faces” in the April 4 election, Serwatka said.
This year, the board voted to increase property taxes by a minimum of 50 percent along with approving a $66 million tax increment financing (TIF) district. Serwatka told McHenry Times the TIF is a “ticking time bomb” that residents neither wanted nor had an opportunity to approve.
“It takes money out of the pool of tax dollars," Serwatka said. "Normally, those dollars go to the fire department or other services. Eventually, everybody in the village has to pay it all back.”
He has alerted residents to the dangers of the plan through the Lakewood Tax Fighter and Better Government Project, a political action committee that he co-founded.
“Through the use of TIF, municipalities divert future property tax revenue increases from a defined area or district and direct it toward an economic development project or public improvement project in the community,” he said on the committee's website.
Serwatka said the current board has had “a track record of wasteful spending.”
He pointed to the $750,000 that has been spent on speculative projects such as the development of an area near the intersection of Route 47 and Route 176. In order to support such spending, the village board has repeatedly voted to implement the maximum annual property tax.
In response to the board's taxation and spending practices, Serwatka submitted a petition last year signed by over 500 local residents who did not support having future tax increases.
The board “wouldn’t sign the petition and they fought us on it. We passed it, and these guys don’t want to uphold it,” Serwatka said.
If elected president, Serwatka hopes to make local tax policies transparent.
“We can have lower taxes,” he said.
Three fellow members of the Lakewood Tax Fighter and Better Government Project are also running for village trustee.
Serwatka said it is crucial to elect the entire slate.
“It’s a package deal," he said. "It doesn’t do good to elect me president with the current board of trustees because they have no accountability measures.”
Organizations in this Story
2500 Lake Ave
Village of Lakewood, IL 60014-5120