Will the City Council change control and direction?
It is important to remember that individually the members of the city council have little power, but collectively, as stated in the city’s ordinance Sec. 2-37 “The city council shall have all powers of the city not specifically given to some other body or officer.” Any power or authority that the city council has given away, it can rescind. It is important for the city council to run the city, because that puts the ultimate control of the city in the hands (vote) of the city’s residents; whereas, when the city council is but a rubber stamp it makes them and voting worthless, similar to the Roman Senate members under a Caesar.
The following are some steps that the city council can take to put itself back in charge of the City of Lake Geneva:
- Attach the name of the person who sponsored the agenda item except for the routine items such as the approval of previous meeting minutes and items to be reconsidered. The sponsoring name should apply to ordinances, resolutions and closed sessions. The sponsoring name should be a person not a committee. This identifies the person responsible, or who accepts the responsibility, for the agenda item being on the agenda (no anonymous agenda items).
- The open meeting law prevents, or greatly limits, members of the city council and members of committees from discussing city issues outside of public meetings. While in public meetings the city council and committee members are restricted from taking action on non-agenda items. A further restriction on aldermen is the ordinance that requires two aldermen (not one) to put an item on the city council agenda and it requires them to do it two Fridays before the meeting. It is important for city council members to be free to discuss issues without being hampered by these limitations. To be able to do this the city council needs to amend the meeting agenda to include an “open discussion on any city related topic” agenda item, and every alderman at their request can have one of the discussed items included on the city council’s next scheduled meeting agenda for further discussion/possible action.
- The current city manual requires that all requests for city information from an alderperson shall go through the city administrator. That requirement should be eliminated. The city council should work with the city administrator to run the city, but not limit and funnel the city council’s only path to city information through the city administrator.
- Resolutions like city ordinances should be searchable on line by resolution number, title, and date of city council approval (note: This would not include attachments, but the date of approval enables one to find the City Council packet that would contain the attachments).
- The agenda and meeting packet should be completed and published the Wednesday prior to the city council meeting. This gives a more reasonable amount of time for city council member to review and check into agenda items prior to the meeting.
- Meeting agenda items (except for urgent items) should be supplied to the city clerk two Fridays before the meeting, and the agenda published the Monday prior to the meeting.
- Resolutions and ordinances that are changed after being published in the packet, cannot be voted on at that meeting. The agenda item and corrected version is to be republished in the packet and voting delayed for the next city council meeting. This prevents the bait and switch that has been done in the past and has led to multiple law suits.
When the City Council voted to close TID #4, the public was told that there would be a complete audit of TIF and that the City of Lake Geneva would be using the city’s auditors Schenck SC to audit Tax Increment District #4.
Has this occurred? (Did the Cubs win the World Series last year?).
The answer is no.
Last year’s summary of TIF #4 expenditures that was reviewed by Schenck was not an audit, and Schenck made it clear that they were not validating the accuracy of the figures that had been supplied. When the TIF figures were questioned at that time, the TID #4 figures given to Schenck to review did not agree with the earlier figures given to the TIF Board, nor did they agree with city’s audit figures from previous years and yet the city continued to use them. A complete and thorough audit of all TIF expenditures and revenues needs to be made before TIF #4 is closed.
That cannot be done and still meet the required May 15th closing because the effective closing date of a TIF District occurs when the Revenue Department receives the notice as explained in TIF law. Within 60 days of the termination of TIF #4, the City of Lake Geneva is to give the Department of Revenue written notice. If the Department of Revenue receives a notice between January 1st and May 15th, the effective date of the notice is the date the notice is received. A final accounting of all expenditures made by the city, the total amount of project costs incurred by the city, and the total amount of positive tax increments received by the city that relates to the terminated tax increment district #4 needs to be sent to the Department of Revenue.
If these actions are not taken in accordance with Wisconsin State Law then the Lake Geneva City Leadership, including the Lake Geneva City Attorney, stand to be called into question and accused of professional malfeasance of office and deliberate fraud.