Normally, I like to have this review up by Sunday evening, to give everyone time to review the information in the board packet, but to be very honest, I'm working on a bit of research that has consumed my time lately.
I hope that this meeting will begin with a statement by the board/president/CAO addressing the sudden departure of Ofc. Pluviose. I've been hoping to hear that the accusations made in his resignation letter are being taken with the same level of concern that the allegations against Todd Richardson were taken. While I don't relish another costly investigation, I believe that the liability of trying to ignore the allegations are costly and it would be nice to see and hear from our board as to how they will be handling the situation.
I would be interested to have the board confirm if they are confident that the promotion process was inclusive and was open to all the officers who expressed interest. Additionally, I would be interested in finding out if there will be any investigation into the racist remarks that our newest sergeant is said to have said. To be clear, I'm not asking for personnel matters to be discussed publicly, but I'm interested to know what if any process will be followed and if it differs from the one taken against Chief Richardson, why.
That said, the packet is very light this week. There are essentially two items on the agenda. One of them is broken up into 4 items, but all of them are are regarding the sale of two plots of land on Redtail Dr. I've double checked the math and both are over the 80% of assessed value threshold and as I understand this was property that a developer gave to the village as they could not sell it -- I'm thrilled to see it sold.
The other item is a repeat of the impact fee waiver for another builder that was passed last meeting. This one I have a couple of questions -- I've asked them a few times, I just haven't gotten an answer to them:
Why are we doing this builder by builder vs. the whole village as was done last fiscal year?
Just so everyone is aware, the impact fees include the tap fees for Water and Sewer, which are currently are $20,668 ($10,765 for Water and $9,903.85 for Sewer). The average home ($400K) pays about $1,200 to the Village a year in taxes. Let's pretend that these new homes would pay double that so $2,400. It's 8.5 years before the property taxes offset the just those tap fees -- and we have to ask if $2400 a year is a reasonable assumption.
Now, to follow on to point 2, at the last meeting it was mentioned that there are 38 lots in Autumn Ridge, which if you multiply that by the $20K waiver that $785,000 in waived fees that it will take us between 17 (at $1200/yr) and 8.5 (at $2400/yr) to break even.
I'm all for new homes to be built in Lakewood. I really support what we can do to bring new construction to our village, but I wonder at what cost.
Beyond these two topics there are some invoices to approve and the August Financials -- which means we are now only 2 months behind in month financials. September is when the new system has begun to be used; so I expect those would be delayed as the old system and the new system will need to be compared to ensure they are both in sync and accurate. I did confirm this process with CAO Smith when I spoke to her on Friday and she assures me that the September financials will be throughly audited by herself.
Because of this impending shift, I've begun to dig deep into our financials and I'm seeing issues. there's a request for some more details and I'm hoping to be able to pin down what is really going on; but after 4 months of end of month reporting, I've noticed a few odd things -- this is one on salaries (keep in mind, that we had all the salaried employees still working in August):
If I'm reading this right, our salaries are over budgeted by $139.396 OR we've not booked all the salaries to the GL correctly. To be clear, this is for salaried employees only, which I believe the count at the end of August was 6 people. To get to the projected end of year, I divided the YTD by 4 (months) and then multiplied by 12. The budget states there would be no increases, so this should be a fair projection of where salaries will end up -- the exception is Lake Patrol, which I capped at $5,000 because it should be done by September and shouldn't have expenses in the fall/winter months. Looking at this suggests that Public Works and Lakewood Utilities is under reporting salaries or is missing a person -- and would that person make nearly $140,000/yr?
Like I said, there's more to come on this -- which is why I'm anxiously awaiting the audit -- which is missing from this agenda. Given that it must be completed by the end of the year (it was due at the end of October, so one can only guess at the reasons for the delays), I'm guessing we will have our last meeting of the year to approve the audit at the second meeting in December.
I highly encourage you to attend the meeting tomorrow evening. If you are concerned with the state of our police force, the treatment of our officers, or even just the state of the financials -- please let your board know. Write them an email; call them; comment during public comments. This is the time to remind the board that the residents are always watching.