More on the Budgets.
Over the next year and a half, the Lake Geneva City Council, City Administrator Blaine Oborn and Mayor Alan Kupsik are going to have to make some very difficult financial decisions, and with very few options from which to choose. The $2.5 million windfall from closing TIF #4 may enable the City of Lake Geneva to make it through the coming 2017 budget, but for the following year’s budget the city has only four choices.
1.) Cut spending.
2.) Borrow money.
3.) Increase revenue through additional taxation.
4.) Increase revenue by making significant increases in fees, fines and licenses.
There you have it. Cutting spending is extremely difficult unless the city administrator, mayor and at least half the city council are united in that effort. Borrowing money to fund current spending is a financial death spiral. Passing the Premier Resort Area Tax is not possible without an overwhelming citizen support, which is about as likely as staying warm through an Alaskan winter with solar heat. Making significant increases in fees and fines will harm the city’s tourism revenue. By state law the city can’t just raise property taxes to increase city revenue. To get the extra revenue the city, under Dennis Jordan, the city manipulated, commingled, borrowed and depleted city funds.
The city receives $600,000 to $700,000 in State Transportation Funds to repair the city’s streets. This money comes from the city’s share of the state’s tax on gasoline. Money that, by state law, is to be kept in a separate account and used only for transportation related issues. The city consistently has ignored that law and put it into the general fund, and then borrows an average of $500,000 per year to take care of the roads. It adds a levy to property taxes to pay off the loan. In other words, the transportation money is used as a sneaky increase in property taxes.
The city has also used TIF #4 money to do city roads, including the Edwards Extension, paving the downtown, repairing alleys and now the Highway 50 widening. Prior to 2005 half of the parking meter and lake front funds were set aside to repair and maintain the Riviera and the Lake Front. In 2005 the city raided the parking meter fund and the lake front fund. The city abolished the ordinance restricting the city’s take to 50%. Since then the city has taken about two million every year from those funds, leaving only $75,000 in both each year. Then the city used TIF #4 funds to repair the Riviera and the lake front and for the purchase of the new parking meter system. Moving the undesignated fund into the general fund, and keeping the parking meter and lake front money in the general fund, has enabled the city to use them to meet the city’s required minimum account balance for emergencies while spending the two million that had been calved off there to serve that purpose.
Over the next year and a half, the Lake Geneva City Council, city administrator and mayor are to going need resident support to make some seriously difficult financial decisions. There are very few options. Like other cities that have become dependent on inflated revenue and are unable to decrease spending to meet available revenue, the City of Lake Geneva may start down the death spiral of raising fees, fines and visitor taxes that could drive the city into bankruptcy if not downright abandonment.
Fall Classic Barrel Race and Pole Bending Championships
Dawson’s Creek Ranch and the Geneva Shore Report present The Fall Classic Barrel Race and Poles Championships. October 7th, 8th, and 9th at the Walworth County Fairgrounds. This grand event is going to be terrific. It will feature the ‘Race of Champions’ and pole bending contests, as well as barrel racing with big money prizes. Chuck Bartok, a Pro Rodeo Announcer from Corning, California will be there doing what he does so well, entertaining everyone. There will be other great events; a caramel apple station and a pumpkin carving contest judged be Lake Geneva’s Mayor, Alan Kupsik. What a great way to welcome fall and have some good family fun.