Follow the money.
The municipal pier, the parking, the beach, rental of the Riviera Pier Complex and very little else, have become the main support revenue foundations keeping the city afloat. Tax revenues are going to be ‘iffy’ at best, as the public is not in the best position to pay up. So many businesses and regular people are underwater, as we say today. How much each of these foundational cash producing areas bring in is going to have to be very carefully watched and monitored. As a frightened America reels from its reaction to the virus, money is going to become a brutal leveler. Credit dries up at the same time since banks and savings and loans and credit unions do not loan money very willingly to people who might need it. They loan money mostly to people who already have it.
Follow the money II.
The Coronavirus is having a negative impact on the City of Lake Geneva’s revenue. All tourist revenue is down and that includes revenue from The Rivera, the beach, parking, hotel tax, parking tickets and fines, park permits and city permits, business permits, etc. However, this only adds to the city’s on-going spending problem in which the city has been spending almost 1 million dollars beyond its true revenue by financial transferring revenue from other accounts into the general fund and then using another source of revenue to cover the transferred funds.
To explain: Prior to 2005, 50% of the revenue from the Lakefront (The Riviera and Beach) and the parking meters was set aside in a fund for the maintenance and repair of the Rivera, lakefront, and parking meters and the rest went to the city. In 2005 the city transferred those funds and 100% of all lakefront and parking revenue (minus $75,000 each) into the general fund. In 2012 When Riviera and beach and needed repair and the parking meters needed to be replaced the city used TIF #4 revenue to cover those expenditures. Now that TIF #4 has been closed the money to repair the Riviera is being borrowed.
The $250,000 the city paid the water department for the fire hydrant rental fee was added to resident’s water bills, to give the city an extra ¼ million in revenue to spend. The city receives $700,000 every year from the state’s road transportation fund to maintain the roads and although required to be kept in separate accounts and use specifically for transportation the city puts in the general fund under intergovernmental transfers and then borrows money to repair the roads. The list of juggling goes on and becomes more difficult to explain because in some cases it is not what is done but what in what was not done that has caused the city’s total assets and net position to lose $12.5 million between 2015 and 2018. (Note: As of August 5th, the 2019 data was not yet published on the city’s website.)
So, in the memo about the 2021 budget when it stated in the FLR’s budget draft under item 12 “the city’s overall financial position has continued to trend in a positive direction” one might wonder what definition of positive is being used.