Lake Villa voters reject plan to buy Antioch Golf Club
Lake Villa residents turned out by the hundreds to oppose a township proposal to purchase Antioch Golf Club.
Approximately 850 residents attended a special Lake Villa Board of Trustees meeting on May 22 to voice disapproval of the plan and township officials' lack of communication.
The proposal, put forth by township Supervisor Dan Venturi, who proposed buying the course to preserve neighboring Lake Villa home values, was struck down by a 716-128 vote, resident Michael Frederichs told the Lake County Gazette.
Frederichs, who opposed the idea, said he mentioned the meeting to everyone he encountered in the days leading up to the vote, but few people had even heard of the issue. Many who attended the meeting were most upset that they weren't notified sooner.
"There were so many people that didn’t know anything about it," Frederichs said. "I’m not saying it was a cover-up, but I think they preferred fewer people to know about it."
Frederichs said he doesn't think township officials are holding the vote against residents, and residents can say the township has a difficult job that involves trying to keep everyone happy. He said the township has made strides in its attempt to fill in as "the de facto park district." Lake Villa doesn't have a park district.
"They’ve done some good things, but when they’re off base it’s difficult to get their attention," Frederichs said. "It was a good meeting."
It was estimated the Antioch Golf Club, a 100-acre tract of land that falls outside of the township, would cost Lake Villa approximately $750,000, plus an additional $200,000 for repairs. That amounts to more than half of the $1.4 million Lake Villa has in reserves.
“In my opinion, and in the opinion of everyone that I have spoken to, this is a bad thing,” Frederichs previously told the Gazette. “I am really surprised that the township was able to squirrel away as much money as they have. I have now taken an interest in this. Although there are no real rules on how much money they can squirrel away, the recommended amount is two to six months of reserves."
The township's reserves were at 118 percent of the annual operational costs at the end of fiscal year 2016, according to an audit. Independent auditors reported to the board that the township’s assets outweighed its liabilities by nearly $14 million, including $1,399,429 classified as “unrestricted," meaning it could be spent on "ongoing obligations to citizens and creditors."
The board proposed using it to buy the privately owned golf club, which has been hemorrhaging money, operating at an annual loss of approximately $200,000. Venturi's plan included temporarily operating at a $100,000 deficit.