Lakewood good-government group opens website, prepares for elections

LAKEWOOD – A fledgling anti-tax group determined to reduce residents' tax bills has started up a website with April elections around the corner.

The website of the Lakewood Tax-Fighter and Better Government Project went live earlier this month, at www.lakewoodtaxfighter.com, to educate residents about its initiatives, founder and village Trustee Paul Serwatka said.

“We’re doing as much as we can with door knocking and email campaigns … but there are still more people out there who are not a part of it than who are,” Serwatka said. “This is one more way to spread the word.”

Serwatka, who as a write-in candidate defeated an incumbent in 2015 to win a board seat, announced last month that he would use the meager salary from being a trustee to provide seed money to the project that would encourage other donations – he previously would give the $98 monthly check back to the village. The group seeks to reduce the village's tax burden by expanding awareness of village issues, organizing residents, and identifying and electing village board members who pledge a dedication to lower taxes, transparency and fiscally responsible policies.

The group wants to make its presence known in both upcoming elections. Its members got an advisory question on the Nov. 8 ballot asking village residents whether any taxing body should be required to go to referendum for any tax increase – under the tax cap law, local governments do not need voter permission to increase the levy by the rate of inflation.

Serwatka, however, said his group is putting together a slate of candidates who, if successful, will get the majority needed to lower the village budget.

“Having this website will be a tool,” Serwatka said.

The majority of Lakewood residents' tax bills, however, goes to schools – almost all of the village is within the boundaries of Crystal Lake-based School Districts 47 and 155.