New village hall called priority

CRYSTAL LAKE – A new village hall is a priority for Lakewood officials, the village’s president, Erin Smith, said in the annual State of the Village address Friday.

An analysis found there was a need to upgrade the police facilities and Village Hall, she said.

The village intends to relocate to village-owned property on Haligus Road, but first must complete surveying of the site and land studies, Smith said. At its monthly meeting Tuesday, the Village Board will vote on hiring a surveyor for $4,000.

It’s still unclear exactly how the village will pay for a new hall, but Smith said it has ample reserves and could sell the existing Village Hall as a down payment. Current estimates for a new hall are in the $3 million to $4 million range, but Smith said that included all the bells and whistles, and she expected the cost to be much lower.

Alternate revenue bonds were ruled out as a funding option, Smith said after Friday’s luncheon. That kind of funding dedicates an alternate revenue source to repay the bonds. If projections are off, taxpayers are the backstop for the loan.

Those bonds were used in the early 1990s to buy Lakewood’s RedTail Golf Course, but taxpayers ended up footing the bill when golf course fees couldn’t repay the debt.

“We are not considering alternate revenue bonds, period,” Smith said. “We’re not willing to put our residents’ taxes on the line to get a better rate.”

Also during her speech, Smith reported that residential development is turning around. After years of being flat, there have been seven housing starts, and four houses are under construction. She said she hoped the village can piggyback on a new Huntley hospital to continue that growth.

“Residential housing is picking up, and we’re very pleased to see that,” Smith said.

She also highlighted a referendum for electrical aggregation that she said will save residents an estimated $350 a year on their electric bills.

If you go

What: Lakewood Village Board

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Turnberry Country Club, 9600 Turnberry Trail

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