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  • Writer's pictureTricia Babischkin

Board Packet Sunday: February 9, 2021

As I do every Sunday before a board meeting, I'm reviewing the board packet. After canceling the last meeting because the board didn't want to face the residents, I mean, "lack of agenda," this is a packed meeting -- and sadly a problematically packed agenda. Take your pick: revisionist history, budget failures, overpriced appraisal, failure to follow adopted procedures and attempting to shame residents.

I find it interesting that after a rush in the summer to get us back to public meetings, now that we could have them again, there appears to be no rush. Maybe Phil doesn't want everyone to see his World of Warcraft Microphone?

As always, my notes are in green.

Board Agenda Review:

With so few board meetings left before the election, I expect Phil will once again open the meeting to tell us that we are wrong about something and only give us half the information about it as 'proof.' Sadly, we've not yet seen this become the agenda item it deserves.

CONSENT AGENDA: 1. Request Approval of Minutes: a. January 12, 2021 Regular Village Board Meeting

There is an error in my public comments to from this meeting. In light of the next bullet point -- you'll quickly understand why this is critically important that this be updated. If you spoke at the meeting, you might want to take a minute and review your words to ensure accuracy.

I said "General Fund" As that is what was approved on 7/23/2019. In fact, here's a copy of my pre-written remarks that I spoke from:

b. July 23, 2019 Amended Regular Village Board Meeting

So -- anyone else think it's odd that our board is being asked to amend the minutes from 18 months ago? I would have if it wasn't for this recent post on the payment for the Hampshire road project -- which is the change the CAO appears to be attempting to make.

This is the original:

This is what's in THIS board packet:

So -- now our CAO is attempting to do revisionist history in an attempt to correct the error that I pointed out to her on January 12th (and in my subsequent emails). What is painfully obvious is that this actually doesn't fix the problem, though it could create more.

  1. If this board allows this it would set a precedent to revise any decision in previous minutes as if it didn't happen. Don't worry about changing code the right way with a vote -- just bury a revision to the minutes in the consent agenda and you can alter the past without recourse. This is incredibly DANGEROUS -- and should not be considered lightly.

  2. This change does not change the fact that she asked to spend money she didn't have budgeted. It does not change the fact that she spent money from the Impact Fee Fund on a road in an area that did not pay into that fund. It does not fix the fact that 'loans' from the Impact Fee Fund should be paid back with interest.

Essentially, it doesn't fix the problem of funding this project -- but it sure opens the door to many more issues --- like what happens when 18 months goes by and Phil wants to revise the minutes to say the board approved a budget item they did not? What happens if the minutes are changed to read something that isn't in line with what the board approved at the time?

2. Request Approval of Bil Lists: a. Accounts Payable Invoices Dated January 27, 2021 in the Amount of $50,403.9 b. Accounts Payable PrePaid Invoices Dated January, 2021 in the Amount of $61,179.54

c. Accounts Payable Invoices Dated February 10, 2021 in the Amount of $171,322.62

A few notes that concern me:

1. It appears that we are making a support payment for the new accounting software that I thought was included in our first year of the contract.

Request to approve the invoice:

The Contract:

Additionally, it also looks like our CAO/Finance Director/Budget Officer never budgeted for the accounting software in the first place.

The budget:

From the Revenue/Expense Report:

So, not only did our CAO/Finance Director/Budget Officer fail to budget a $31,330 expense, which incidentally was approved the SAME meeting as the budget, she also has failed to notice that we are paying for support in the first year that should be included. Is that really the high quality, attention detail you would expect of a highly compensated administrator of our village? Shall we watch and see if anyone on our board even question these expenses?

3. Request Approval of Financial Statements: None

4. Items Removed from Consent Agenda-- If Any

AGENDA ITEMS FOR DISCUSSION 5. Motion to Approve Resolution No. 2021-(R02) – A Resolution for Construction on a State Highway

I dislike resolutions without context or even a letter explaining them. From what I can gather in the legalese here, this looks like something we need to do for the work on a State Highway -- which one can assume is the Haligus Road project.

6. Motion to Approve an Ordinance No. 2021(03) – An Ordinance to Authorize the Sale or Disposal of Personal Property Owned by the Village of Lakewood

This is good news. This property was donated to the village in 2019 when the developer couldn't sell it. I believe there had been talk of a little park on it, but it was apparently unsuitable for that. It appears that one of the neighbors is going to buy the land and I say congratulations to the new owners!

However, this piece of property had to be appraised to be sold -- did anyone on the board notice that we spent $1,000 to appraise a vacant lot?

Trustee Augustine, you are in real estate, right? What is the average rate for an appraisal? I believe that in 2016 the same appraiser cost $1,500 to appraise 5 of the RedTail lots -- has there really been 233% inflation in 5 year? Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

7. Motion to Accept an Offer to Purchase a Lot at 8732 Shade Tree Circle in the Amount of $22,000

8. Motion to Authorize the Chief Administrative Officer to Execute a Contract for the Purchase of a Lot at 8732 Shade Tree Circle in the Amount of $22,000

9. Motion to Approve Ordinance No. 2021-(04) – An Ordinance Amending Chapter 8, 2021 Golf Rates, RedTail Golf Club, of the Lakewood Municipal Code

When I reviewed the proposal the first thing that struck me is the fact that the comparison chart of rates failed to include the other courses that are within the borders of Lakewood. So, of course, I went and looked up the rates and in truth, I found the proposed rates to be comparable -- just interesting that the other courses were left out.

I also like the membership options -- it was something I noted we'd been lagging in until this past summer when golf around the country was hot.

I believe that it is important to remember that summer 2020 is likely an anomaly due to the pandemic driving even the most sedentary people outside. And while this season may start off strong; I have a feeling that people will begin to travel again as the vaccine rolls out and we may see a shift in usage.

10. Motion to Authorize the Chief Administrative Officer to Execute a Pledge Agreement with BMO Harris

11. Motion to Authorize the Chief Administrative Officer to Execute a Pledge Depository Agreement with Bank of America

For both of the depository agreements I only have a few questions:

  1. Are there plans on how the funds will be divided between the banks?

  2. Since there are two pledge agreements, one may assume there's a thought of using one bank over another for specific needs -- can this be outlined?

  3. Is there any advantages with regard to interest in one bank or the other? Any other advantages, like investing options?

  4. What is the plan for using these agreements? What will change in today's state with these.

Oh -- and page 2 from the Bank of America agreement is missing -- hope there's no concerning small print we'd want to our board to see.

12. Motion Authorizing a Speed Limit Reduction in the Woodland Hills Subdivision from 30 mph to 25 mph

Before I begin -- I am absolutely fine with setting the speed limit on residential streets at 25 mph. I have no issue with that. What I have issue with is that because a single board member's only issue is the speed at which his street his driven -- the village enacted a traffic calming policy and then completely disregarded it in an effort to give a Trustee his wish.

In November, the board approved an actual policy for dealing with the traffic concerns. In order to come before the Traffic Calming Committee, the issue had to meet certain requirements:

Per the minutes of the meeting, Woodland Hills does not meet the requirements based on:

It does not have the minimum traffic required to be reviewed. Per the traffic study, there are an average of 184 cars traveling this road daily (which makes sense, as there are only 50 homes on the road). Additionally, the minutes call out that the petition for review was 8 houses short of the required 75% which was also a requirement to be reviewed by the committee. What's even better is that during the traffic study, only 42 total cars drove over 35 mph -- which is an average of 6 per day.

But that's not even the best part. Remember Woodland Hills basically goes no where. It is a road with two connections to Haligus Rd and has 50 houses on it -- and the road curves considerably. So, with the recommended drop to 25 mph (with an expected enforcement level at about 34 mph), do you think we will have 1 of the 2 patrolling cops on duty sitting there to enforce the speed limit for the potential of 6 cars? No -- the cops will continue to sit across the street at Public Works and enforce the speed limit on Haligus. So -- we are going to drop the speed limit; hope that someone slows down -- because what I'm betting is that with that few numbers -- the 'speeder' is likely the same few neighbors, instead of someone politely going to their neighbor and saying, "Hey -- we would like to keep the kids we let play in the street alive, could you slow down a bit?"

None of that matters. What matters is that a Trustee, one not elected, but appointed -- one who was removed from this April's ballot because he failed to follow the process required thinks *HIS* road has too high of a speed limit. He isn't concerned about YOUR road's speed limit. He is NOT concerned about the speed limit of any other road in the village -- he has ONLY ever spoken about *HIS* road. This Trustee has been given preferential treatment.

And this my friends is my issue with so much of what this board has done. Phil wants you to call his cell phone when you want a problem solved, so he can give his friends, or those who can do him a favor, preferential treatment. And this is no different. One man's cause for his own benefit will get a sign that will make him feel better and effectively change nothing. Great work!

13. Motion to Direct Chief Administrative Officer to Place a FOIA Counter on the Village Website

And this might be my favorite motion ever! First, despite repeated proof that FOIAs aren't the village's problem -- it's the board's hard work to obscure transparency, fire or push away beloved staff; and to waste our tax dollars -- our board wants to attempt to continue this falsehood.

What I find fascinating is that the Freedom of Information Act itself is built around the concept that unless specifically protected (like in terms of privacy) information should be made available to the public. It is the primary way to avoid corruption and fraud to open up your dealings to watchdogs in the public. Additionally, no one should ever be discouraged from making a FOIA Request -- and frankly, anything that the board does to discourage FOIAs (short of actually getting ahead of the requests and making information easily and readily available) should be a giant red flag that something is wrong.

It is my belief that when people attend board meetings the board should take note, often the public is not there to pat you on the back and tell you that you are doing a great job. This board mocked, ignored, and marginalized people who have been attending since May 2020. When the citizens are then doing their own research and requesting information in an effort to get to the truth of what's happening, it should be another warning sign to the board and the administration that their constituents are unhappy. If the board cared, they would use these signs to change the narrative and work to improve the situation -- not this board; not this administration. They would prefer to attempt to shame and intimidate those of us who are trying to get to the truth and to the reality.

So, with this in mind -- a few people have suggested that we request that if the board approves this move -- they call it the:

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