What the devil is Patrick Kavanaugh, formerly of Patrick Kavanaugh Realty and leaseholder at 252 Center Street in downtown Lake Geneva, doing? It appears, having left his lease of 252 Center Street and preparing to move to Milwaukee, Kavanaugh is making a few bucks by renting out parking spaces behind the 252 Center Street building. He was doing the same thing when he held the lease to the building, but nobody said anything. Well, those days of quiet acceptance are probably over. Kavanaugh moving on will be a bit of a shame, though, because he is a beloved figure around Lake Geneva. You can say whatever you want about some of Patrick’s antics, but everyone who knows him will always agree that he is one, genuinely nice man.
Closing TIF District #4.
As Lake Geneva’s City Attorney tries to find a legal way for the City of Lake Geneva to weasel around the intent of the State of Wisconsin’s Tax Increment Financing Laws, it might be time to question his motivation and the ethics behind his actions.
The law is quite blunt on TIF closings, and that law applies to Lake Geneva’s TIF District #4, as well as all other TIFs around the state.
Wisconsin State law says that when enough TIF money has been collected to complete all the TIF projects, then the TIF District is to be closed. That has occurred, and in fact there is currently then to twelve million dollars in excess of that amount in the TIF fund. Lake Geneva and its city attorney are not above the State TIF Laws, but they have chosen to ignore this one. Although actually closing a TIF District involves a complete detailed accounting of all expenditures (see link above) setting the closing process into motion is simply done by an affirmative vote of the City Council to close the TIF District. That one vote sets the closing of the TIF District in motion.
But if TIF #4 were to close today, then the City Council could not do any of its projects.
Why, when the $2.5 million plus that the city would receive from closing TIF #4 would be more than enough TIF money to complete all of the new TIF projects that they have proposed. Then why would the City Council not use that TIF #4 closing money to do the TIF projects? The answer is that the city council views TIF money, before its closing, as free money, and after distribution, as city money, which they hold to a different level of spending accountability. They feel that they could not justify spending city money on those project, but somehow feel justified in using TIF money to do them.
Simply put, because they do not feel that they can justify spending city money on those projects, then they should not be spending TIF money on them either. Whether it is TIF money or city money that money came from local property taxes and spending it should require the same level of justification as any other collected revenue before it should be spent. Furthermore, this proposed plan to give away a million dollars ($200,000 for the Travers Hotel developer and $800,000 to the Broad Street theater developer) is totally unethical conduct if followed through on by Lake Geneva’s City Council, and it quite possibly should be justification for recall actions, including such actions toward Lake Geneva’s City Attorney, Dan (the Don) Draper.