The struggle is real with Lake Geneva City Council granting requests to waive event fees and security deposits for various groups and events.
Members of previous city councils, as well as the current city council, have been bothered by the city council’s inconsistencies or unfairness in granting or not granting these waivers. A recent example of an inconsistency occurred on March 27th when the city’s BID (Business Improvement District) requested waivers for two different events, and the city council, after granting a waiver for the first event, had second thoughts, and arbitrarily set a fee for the second event.
Alderperson Cindy Flower expressed the need for consistency in granting waivers, and the need for an ordinance (or policy) to assure consistency in granting said waivers. Previous alderperson Sarah Hill was opposed to granting any fee waivers because the fees are to cover use of the city’s facility, and to cover the extra city costs such as set up, security and clean up that the events cause the city. In reviewing the issue of granting fee waivers, a policy could be established with justifiable reasons for granting exemptions; however, if there are justifiable reasons for ignoring or exempting individuals from the law then that exemption should be universal and written into the law.
For example: In the City of Lake Geneva people with handicap parking permits are permitted to park in any parking stall in the city and are exempt from paying the $1.00 per hour parking fee, and they do not have to apply for a city permit to park for free. The solution to the selective problem of granting fee waivers for the use of city parks and facilities is to put the waiver of fees into the law itself, so it eliminates the potentially arbitrary decision making of the city council members. The current law specifies different rates for residents and non-residents, it could also specify that fees are to be waived for specific events such as Venetian Festival, Christmas Parade, etc. and/or specific groups such as local public schools, the library, etc.
The selective or arbitrary waiving of fees is not a serious problem, but it is a symptom of the real problem in the city, which is the selective or arbitrary enforcement and granting of waivers to city ordinances. By ignoring, selectively enforcing, exempting and permitting exceptions (violations) of city ordinances with conditional use permits, the plan commission and the Lake Geneva City Council have made themselves above the law, and made residents of the city subject to the whims of selective enforcement, leaving the compliance with some ordinances to the whims of the plan commission and city council through conditional use permits. The ability to deny or grant special exemptions to ordinances under conditional use permits, effectively, sets up the plan commission and the city council approvals to financial influence by those wanting the exemptions to the law, or a change of the law for them and for their personal benefit.
John Halverson steps up to the plate and takes a swing. John was the managing editor of the Lake Geneva Regional News, and yesterday was either elected to the Lake Geneva City Council to replace Tim Horne, or he wasn’t. If he was elected, then it will be a new experience for him to ‘take the heat’ that will most certainly come his way from the media for decisions he might make. He’s not used to that kind of heat, because it is damned difficult to go after media managers, as they are the ones who control most of the public voice. John once wrote, in an editorial, about how he thought public officials should take much more of that heat than regular citizens. He treated the managing editor of the Geneva Shore Report as a public official in that regard, strongly, harshly and without much research to back him up. If he lost the election, should he feel relief? If he won the election should he consider, with some trepidation, that the very same media he used occasionally as a cudgel and swift sharp sword will be turned, and turn those weapons on him? The answer to both of those questions is easy and obvious. The answer is yes. That John has chosen to put himself in the center ring at all is worthy of remark here. That move shows that he has courage. Since the election will be over after this issue goes to press, only you, the reader will know the result upon reading this article. If John lost, then he may relax back into the pastoral country side around Lake Geneva and go about his retirement, fishing, hunting and more. If he won, then he’s going to need a good measure of that courage he displayed in running at all. Good luck John. The Geneva Shore Report is pulling for you to win.
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