FREE PARKING GOES AWAY
Paid parking in Lake Geneva has been a quiet controversy for many years, although the subject has remained so under the radar that very few people ever comment on it. Parking meters have changed to high tech items, with even higher tech items on the coming agenda. Parking rates have gone from twenty-five cents an hour to more than a dollar per hour and they are headed much higher. The City of Lake Geneva has a specifically difficult course to follow in raising revenue. Unlike the Town of Linn or even Fontana, the City of Lake Geneva has very little in the way of high-priced lakefront property. That means that there is no real sizable property tax revenue coming into the city coffers from that source. There was something called the TIFF years ago. That was a revenue-sharing agreement between the lake area communities and the City of Lake Geneva, wherein the city would get a sizable share of property tax because the city was and remains such a magnet for everyone to enjoy, not just the residents or taxpayers. The TIFF was done away with because so many Walworth County residents felt that they did not want to share in another tax scheme that didn’t seem to directly apply to their own situation. The argument sounded logical and the TIF was no more.
Well, get used to two or three dollars an hour to park in the city then. Or more. There is no limit on what a community can charge for parking, any more than there is a limit for how much a community can charge for fines when people don’t pay the charge. The city has to pay its bills and it has to pay for support services that are incurred when people visiting from all points around the lake come and demand to have bathrooms and other services provided to them while visiting. The new touchscreen-controlled parking kiosks are coming, but they are coming at a price and that price has everything to do with paying for the expenses of taking care of everyone and everyone’s needs.
The small business people pay a price for this because it is, in many cases, their customers who are lost. Lake Geneva becomes another nightmare community where people only visit to see what happened to the once vibrant, living and breathing place they remember so fondly but faded into what has turned into a dark dismal future. Sylvia, Lake Geneva’s parking queen, is a wonderfully brilliant woman and has been a positive force in attempting to get council members and the mayor to understand the parking predicament in Lake Geneva. The money is badly needed by the city if projects like the Riviera Redevelopment are to be done, and the primary payor of parking fees of all kinds is the visiting public using Lake Geneva equipment and services for no other charge at all. It is a bother to be a local citizen and have to acquire a sticker to park, and it is an even bigger bother to be outside the local area but working or traveling to the city all the time and have to acquire one of the more expensive stickers. But, it is worth it for the continued qualitative development of the community as a whole.