Article opposed to the TIF amendment by Terry O’Neill, Lake Geneva activist and reporter for the Geneva Shore Report:
For the reasons listed below, I as a citizen of Lake Geneva and a former alderman, ask the TIF Board to not approve the new amendment to the City of Lake Geneva’s TIF#4 project list.
- The state law says that when enough TIF money has been collected to complete all the TIF projects, then the TIF District should be closed. That has occurred and that would still be true even if the proposed amended project list were to be approved.
- If the TIF Board does not approve these projects and TIF #4 is closed, then the city of Lake Geneva will receive enough TIF money from the closing of TIF #4 to do all of these new projects. Yes, even if the city is turned down, the city could still do the projects, if the city really wants to do them.
- The sale of the theater to an ex-alderman, who is currently on the Police & Fire Commission, is pending on the TIF Board’s approval of the $800,000 grant from the amended project list for the purchase or restoration of the theater. You don’t have to be a fisherman to see that there could be something fishy about this arrangement, especially if you review the timing of the offer to purchase the theater and the addition of an $800,000 theater grant to the amendment list.
- If the TIF Board approves the project list to keep TIF #4 open so that it will collect an extra $4 million in TIF #4 taxes in the next 2 years with a net gain of $1.5 million to divide among the taxing bodies, over the $2.5 million that the City of Lake Geneva will spend, then the subtle motive behind the Lake Geneva’s city council’s repeated statement about keeping the cost down to something that the TIF board would approve makes the extra $1.5 million look like a tax payer funded bribe to the TIF taxing bodies to get their approval.
- The $1.5 million is not the only incentive for the School’s representative on the TIF Board. There is also the required payback for the TIF funded expansion and repaving of the school parking lot at East View in response to the current school parking lot issue. In politics nothing is done for free. There is always an accompanying debt to be paid back and the TIF vote may be the city’s time to collect.
Public awareness, public knowledge and public involvement are the only cure for corruption in public office.