Lakewood tears down TIF district that brought no new development
Lakewood village trustees voted to eliminate a 2-year-old tax increment financing (TIF) district, making good on the vow that swept Village President Paul Serwatka into office as a write-in candidate in April.
Despite strong opposition from local residents, the board installed the $66 million special-designation property-tax funded development in 2015, moving board member Serwatka into action.
“The way it was done was most disingenuous,” Serwatka told the McHenry Times. “The board waited to create their proposal until just after the filing period so all those voting for it were able to run unopposed. Dissolving it was the cornerstone of my campaign, and I received more votes than anyone.”
No new development has come about in the TIF district that the village spent more than $200,000 in fees to set up.
The move also created yet another unit of government with the power to levy taxes. The state already has more units of local government than any other state, resulting in Illinois residents being saddled with the highest property taxes in nation. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that taxes in McHenry County rank in the top four in the state and among the top 30 in the country.
Supporters of TIFs have long defended them as a way of incentivizing economic development, but Serwatka disagrees.
“Economic development is a euphemism for corporate welfare,” he said. “By dissolving this TIF we stop handouts that would have increased property taxes. If this had failed, it would have all been on the backs of taxpayers.”
Serwatka was part of a winning four-candidate “Tax-Fighter Party” slate that ran on an anti-TIF platform.
After serving two years as a trustee, he was elected village board president on April 4 with 70 percent of the vote. He also appointed a replacement for his board seat that gave his faction a majority voting bloc.
The Northwest Herald reported that Serwatka has never taken a village-paid salary as a board member.
Organizations in this Story
2500 Lake Ave
Village of Lakewood, IL 60014-5120
9811 Palmer Dr
Lakewood, IL 60014