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  • Writer's pictureTricia Babischkin

Board Meeting: July 28, 2020

Board Packet:

Download PDF • 15.39MB

Outline of the Agenda Item discussion:

(I took my previous overview, tried to bring out just the questions, the responses/answers are in blue and finally my conclusion/comments are in green. I'd advise, skim the black text -- as you have likely read it already.)

  • Discussion Regarding Irrigation Well for the Purpose of Maintaining Safe Water Levels to Lake #2

I'd asked:

  • How it will aid the Algae situation in the lakes (all of the lakes)

    • RESPONSE -- The soft-spoken goal that I don't think ever really got said is that should this well be successful, it would allow the Village to cut off the supply of water from the treatment plant/Kishawaukee into Lake #4 that essentially trickles down to Lake #2 that is where RedTail pulls the water to irrigate. I'm still not 100% sure I have this correct; but what I took from the conversation is that Phil is attempting to reverse the direction of the water for the lakes instead of starting from the river and coming down from #4 to #2 -- they would be filled from the rain fall and ammended with a well beginning at #2 going toward #4. I also confirmed after the meeting that Phil's ultimate real goal is to reduce if not eliminate the lake cleaning contract (~$32,000) that SSA#8 pays to maintain the lakes today. As this SSA looks to about $126 on those tax bills a year, I'm sure he's going to look to eliminate the SSA and claim tax payer savings.

  • Keep the water levels up (as it is only to add about 70K gallons a day -- when on -- and RedTail takes 88K to water the course)

    • RESPONSE: During the meeting, Phil said that to maintain the lake levels, the well would begin pumping in June to "pre-fill' prior to a drought the lakes. This appears to be in contrast to what was explained in 6/23's meeting when we were told this well would only be turned on in 'low lake conditions' -- but I did a wee bit of back of the envelope math:

At 50 gallons a minute (what the proposal was written for), the well will pump 72,000 gallons a day (50*60 minutes*24 hours). So, roughly, I measure that the 4 lakes in Turnberry are about 3,384,500 sq ft in area. So, using a formula to figure the gallons per cubit foot, I'm figuring it will take 25,316,060 gallons of water to raise the lakes 1":

total square footage * 1" = cubit feet*7.48 (water gallons per cubit foot)

Now, if I divide that by the 72,000 gallons per day, I see that to raise the lakes 1" that well will need to pump 351 days --- with no evaporation OR irrigation. Even if I double the rate, since at the 7/28 meeting they mentioned a rate of 100 gallons/min, the well would have to pump 175 days to raise the lakes 1".

Maybe I should only be talking about Lake #2, that's only 924,000 sq. feet. And in that case, at 50 gallons/min it will take 96 days of constant running to raise the lake 1".

My Conclusion: I don't know if this well is a good idea; I don't. I understood that prior to the village owning RedTail that the previous owners had drilled a test well and abandoned it; so many there's nothing going to come of this from the test well. But what I'm sure of is that the goal of this project seems to be more about the eliminating SSA #8's responsibility to the water in the lakes and moving that responsibility to the village. And maybe that's the right thing to do, now that Turnberry is a public golf course and Turnberry Park on Lake #1 is a Village Park, maybe the lakes in Turnberry should be maintained by the village as a whole; but then with that village maintenance should not also come water rights to use the lakes? It's something that should be discussed certainly. And let's not forget that the water agreement with Turnberry doesn't expire until 2030. I got the feeling that renewing that agreement may not be in the cards if it hinges on another costly silt removal project. Just things to keep in mind.

Phil has offered to take me on the same field trip that the Trustees went on the walk them through the water flow and I'm going to take him up on it and look forward to it.

  • Motion to Approve a Service Agreement with HR Green for Building Plan Reviews, Building Inspections and Code Enforcement Services on Demand based on the 2020 Bill Rate Schedule included in the Agreement

I'd ask:

  • If we do nothing else, can we PLEASE get CAO Smith to explain how we are going to at least have the building department breakeven when using HR Green?

  • Since she failed to do as promised an raise the permit fees to cover the increase in the inspection costs -- before we approve this service contract, can we get the permits to cover the expenses?

Response: No, CAO Smith reports that as this was a renewal, she did not go out to get multiple bids for the inspections and she added Code Enforcement which is why they building department is losing money. Phil said that they should look into raising permit fees to cover inspections, no promised timeline or if we could possibly prevent raising the fees if we got lower costs on the inspections.

Item Passed.

My Conclusion: Four things concern me:

  1. If Code Enforcement was what is driving up the costs with HR Green and causing us to lose money in the building department, is there any other way we could recoup these costs? I realize the village isn't making huge revenue off of code violation fines, but it would seem odd to me that we'd have $17,580 in code enforcement which is the money the building department lost last fiscal year.

  2. Every year I call my my insurance company, my cable company, etc and review the price I pay to what I could pay if I went to a competitor, what's CAO Smith's schedule for reviewing costs like that -- since she thought yearly wasn't needed?

  3. What's the timeline for permit fee increases to be brought forward? I would think we ought to also make sure we look at the comparable fees in the surrounding communities to make sure we are in line and answer why their fees might be lower. Is there waste we could address and keep the fees lower? Basically, we should have a competitive analysis and understand if we are different, causes, and action items to solve.

  4. Did anyone happen to notice that our last contract with HR Green ended in April? I realize that we didn't go without service, but I'm wondering why this was brought to the board three months after the end of the contract instead of two months prior to the end in case the board would have liked to asked for the due diligence in the recommendation?

  • Motion to Approve Schroeder Asphalt Services, Inc. for the Village of Lakewood’s 2020 Maintenance Resurfacing Road Program in an Amount Not to Exceed $160,726.49

I asked:

  • What roads will this cover?

Response: Phil pointed out that this motion wasn't to discuss the roads covered but to approve the lowest bid for the project. Later in the meeting when one resident mentioned her road was in disrepair, he then asked Gary (our Public Works Director) if her house was on the road covered to be repaired. So despite telling me at the beginning of the meeting that I couldn't have that information, during the discussion of the item we learned that at least Bard and part of Broadway were on the list.

My Conclusion: I think our roads NEED repair. I also liked the 8 bids that HR Green brought to the village with easy to read and compare. Frankly, I think our CAO could use this as a model for future multiple bids. All I asked was share what roads are on this list -- there had to be a list because how else do you know how to scope the supplies?

  • Motion to Approve the Purchase of a 2019-Vac-Coninan Amount Not to Exceed $390,000 and Authorize the Chief Administrative Officer to Obtain Financing with the Village Attorney’s Approval

Open questions on this item (there are a LOT):

  • This was floated on the budget last year for 1/3 the cost; but was never brought to the board to approve -- why the incredible increase in price and why now?

Not asked or discussed. I believe the deal fell through, but I have nothing to base that belief on.

  • Do other small villages the same size as us own their own Vactor Truck or do they contract this out?

    • Confirmed that Lisle, St. Charles, Geneva, and Elmherst out source this work.

Asked, but the conversation quickly turned to possibly leveraging an intergovernmental agreement to share in the cost of the truck. This seemed to have promise; but maintenance and damage questions would need to be worked out.

  • Only shows quotes from only (1) dealer/vendor.

Not asked.

  • I think there was incorrect data used for the cost evaluation:

  • The proposal says that last year $50,444 was spent on vac/televising of 23,150 linear feet. You cannot combine televising of the sewers with vac cleaning.

  • The 2017 quote for televising of sewer at $1.75/linear foot, so for 23,150 that would be $40,500 of the 50,444.

  • So instead of the 2019 sewer vac total of $66,944 for last year that is being shown, it is really $27,000

RESPONSE: Phil says this truck that does televising the sewer. What he doesn't mention that the camera was on a separate proposal and was not in the specs of the truck for $390,000 in the proposal.

  • Why only (1) years worth of out-source totals shown. Need to see several years’ worth of out-sourcing total?

Not Asked.

  • Warranty Questions

Not really asked. There is a comment that they believe the warranty to be worth the cost. But more conversation over the residual value of the truck in 20 years.

  • The maintenance calculation is not clear:

So -- given the camera does not appear to be in the quote presented to the board, I've updated my cost analysis to reflect the updated numbers:

Real Cost Analysis:

Truck + interest = 477,911 (+20K +5.2K interest)

Maintenance = 110,000

587,911/20 years = $29,395.55*

*Not included: insurance

Last year’s single bid outsourcing was $59,000

(comparable other cities quotes were in the mid-$25K range for the same length and work)

My Conclusion: Before I go a single step further, I will agree with Gary that we need to maintain all the sewers. And maybe the right answer for that is a Vactor Truck. Or maybe it's a true competitive bid process on the contracting services, because if the math was as clear as it is trying to be made to seem. What if we could get the service cheaper? What if we had shopped around for the truck itself? All of these are unknowns.

What I will also say is that Jason from Public Works sounds like he's our new vactor truck guy and I thought he was pretty awesome. His passion for victor truck was not something I expected, but truly appreciated. If this truck will be used enough to justify the cost; if it will improve the state our sewers throughout the village -- I can be made to believe it's a good idea.

BUT, I'm not sure about the timing of it. We have so many money issues, I'm not convinced now is the time to take on almost $600,000 (the cost of a house) in debt. But it's done. Maybe Lakewood will host a touch a truck so we can all admire our newest purchase.

  • Discussion and Direction for Staff to Proceed with the Creation of an Administrative Policy for Traffic Calming to be Returned to the Board for Adoption

No open questions. No response needed.

My conclusion: Good. I, for one, would like all neighborhood roads to be reduced to 25 mph. But then again, I've never really been a drive fast person.

  • Motion to Authorize Direction to Draft Agreement with ICON Builders Brighton Oaks Unit 5 to Waive Impact Fees

My question: Does the board realize that by waiving these fees it can take approximately 15 years of taxes from a new home to recoup the waived fees? Perhaps we consider a modified plan?

RESPONSE: Phil walked through his view of the math, so let me update with Phil's math:

Approx. impact fee to the Village: $18,000

Avg. Lakewood Taxes from a single home: $1,500

Avg. annual water/sewer revenue: $1,500

Total $3,000

Years to recoup: $18000/3000 = 5 years.

Correction -- what Phil doesn't include is the costs associated with the water and sewer. So, I think even if we account for minimal costs (as I'm pretty sure that $1,500 number isn't profit) of $1,000 per home -- we are looking at a 9 year recoup timeline. So -- I will allow that my original estimate may be a touch high.

My Conclusion: I believe in new home builds. My questioning that everyone understand the impact of waiving an impact fee is just that a question. Look, the other reality revealed in the meeting was that ICON Homes built one new home in Lakewood last year. The 11 lots they own have sat idle for a length of time and it would be great if we could get new homes built on the land. If waiving impact fees is the way to do that, I think we should give this builder the same deal we've done in the past, a one year deal. They can always come back and ask for another year; but to blanket lock us into a 5 year deal when that hasn't been done prior; seems rash.

I'll note, this ordinance gives CAO Smith authorization to write the agreement up to five years, it doesn't mean it will be written that way. I heard several Trustees lean to a shorter term; so maybe we can put this one in our "let's watch what happens" column.

  • Motion Directing Chief Administrative Officer Jeannine Smith to Not Respond to and to Disregard Any and All Communication from Trustee Younge

My conclusion: Frankly, I think this is pretty silly. On the back of all the complaints in legal bills, Mr. Smoron's comment on this item is that Trustee Younge can only have access to CAO Smith when he FOIAs something. Presumably, this comment is to prevent a suit for preventing Mr. Younge his rights under the law -- but in reality, it just confirmed that Trustee Younge's access to all village information is via FOIA, for which the law firm directly benefits from said FOIAs. It would seem to me that this step is an indication of the conflict of interest Mr. Smoron has -- he directly benefits from the advice he's giving the board to restrict access. I find this interesting.

  • Motion to Authorize Investigation of Bryan Younge for Harassment

My conclusion: I have no more comments on this topic. This will play out in the courts I'm pretty sure and it is sad that our board has dug in like this.


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