FRONT PAGE

THE BUCK STOPS WHERE?

Is the supreme commander and ruler of the land to be compensated with a larger salary and benefit package than underlings who wield less power and make much less fateful and vital decisions?
Not always.
The President of the United States makes less than mid-level bank executives in New York. What of the local situation? What public official in and around the City of Lake Geneva gets paid the most? It is not Blaine Oborn, Lake Geneva’s City Administrator. It’s not Alan Kupsik, Lake Geneva’s Mayor. Actually, the man who makes the most money, as a community leader in this area is the director of the Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. He’s also the least noticeable leader, and you better believe that’s on purpose. Not only is this local non-governmental body allowed to levy taxes on local residents, his organization is not auditable or accountable to anyone in Lake Geneva, governmentally or citizen-wise. This man makes about fifty grand a year more than the second highest paid Lake Area leader, who’s also not “Utah” Blaine Oborn or Alan “Straight Arrow” Kupsik.

That man is Dan “Piggy Bank” Winkler, about to become late of the Lake Geneva Utility Department.   Winkler makes just south of a hundred grand while Oborn makes very high five figures. Kupsik, straight arrow or not, makes chicken feed or chump change in comparison (less than ten grand a year including expenses). Is there any fairness to any of this hierarchical disparity? Certainly. The chamber leader tap dances across the top of his doghouse a few times a week, making sure the arcane Lake Geneva website is still there doing whatever it is that websites does. Mr. Winkler doesn’t dance. He frets away behind his giant custom desk down at the utility department looking out over the traffic and road construction along his stretch of Highway 50, near the bridge and downtown Lake Geneva.

Gunfighter Blaine and Straight Arrow Kupsik are left to do everything else. Oh, there are a few things Winkler and the Chamber “accomplished” over the last year. The utility department managed to get permission to increase utility rates by a record-braking zillion percent, and the chamber very quietly took over directly receiving the room tax money the city used to get. Is there any wonder that Utah Blaine is backing the coming resort (or luxury) tax? The City of Lake Geneva has lost the ability to get money through the TIF, and the chamber has absconded with the room tax revenue. Outside of parking meter revenue (thanks to Sylvia the wandering godsend of a meter maid), beach bucks (well filtered by those people living by the water who run the beach, live in the sand, and hibernate for the winter), and property taxes, there’s not very much to go around.

How are projects like cloned pavilions, empty skate board park concessions and re-sodded fountains to be paid for? What future can this poor distribution of “you get what you pay for….not” leadership portend? It is about time that the City of Lake Geneva City Council, along with Utah Blaine and Straight Arrow Kupsic, sat down and decided that everything surrounding and including Lake Geneva leadership is upside down. City councilors need to be paid better, the mayor needs a real salary and real expense budgets, and genuine expenses have to be tallied and paid for with “right on top of the table” generated revenue. The TIF was one giant piece of deceptive taxation. The resort tax is the same thing with a different name. The beach still needs to be brought under financial control, along with the city’s hapless library. And, oh yes, the utility department leadership and the chamber need fifty percent ‘haircuts’ (or more) when it comes to the “leadership” there.

Lake Geneva Chamber Office

The old office of the Chamber, in Flat Iron Park. The new leader, Lake Geneva’s highest paid, is much more stealthy over somewhere on Center St.

Sign up for Updates