Lakewood officials dissolved a tax increment financing district that was the subject of an agreement between the village and Woodstock School District 200.

The intergovernmental agreement was immediately voided.

When it was created in 2015, village officials touted the TIF near the corner of Routes 176 and 47 as a way to attract businesses to the area. But the possibility of residential development worried some District 200 officials and residents, who feared Woodstock’s schools would be on the hook for the cost of educating new students from the area.

School officials considered suing Lakewood over the TIF, but eventually came to an agreement with village officials: Lakewood would pay at least $8,680 to District 200 for every new student who lived in the TIF, should any move in.

That deal, in turn, alarmed some in Lakewood, who worried an influx of students could end up costing the village.

“I definitely have concerns about that District 200 agreement,” Lakewood Trustee Philip Stephan said during the Village Board meeting June 13, when the TIF was dissolved.

A slate of four candidates, including  Lakewood President Paul Serwatka, were elected in April after running on a platform that included abolishing the TIF.

TIF districts work by freezing property tax distributions to local governments at their current levels. While a TIF is active — typically for 23 years — any additional, or incremental, tax revenue generated within the area by growth or higher property values goes into a fund to be used for development projects within the district.

Some people who spoke at the meeting supported the TIF because they said it would encourage businesses to locate in Lakewood and broaden the village’s tax base.

“TIF districts work,” said George Mueller, Lakewood. “Ask the businesses in downtown Crystal Lake.”

But others disagreed, calling it a lousy deal for taxpayers.

“The TIF was meant to be for a downtrodden area,” said Lakewood’s Cheryl Lockwood. “The Huntley mall has just failed, which was a TIF district. All the people in Huntley did was lose money.”

Trustees Amy Fues Odom, Richard Ritchie, Patrick Rexroat and Stephan voted to eliminate the TIF. Trustee Carl Davis voted against the measure, while Trustee Jason McMahon was absent.

The 609-acre Lakewood TIF included land for a proposed sports complex, but no development had taken place on the property by the time the TIF was dissolved. Whether it would have incorporated residential developments that could have added students to District 200 was part of the controversy surrounding the TIF.

Some who spoke at the meeting said there was no intention to allow housing in the TIF, but Serwatka said the plans included residences.

“It’s in the original agreement,” Serwatka said. “This is one of my biggest sticking points. If they didn’t want it, they wouldn’t have put it in there.”

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