What happens in the City of Lake Geneva seems to foreshadow what will happen in the nation. That happens because “local tourism” is the first symptom to reflect the economic and emotional mode of the nation, and it is that same “local tourism” that effects the City of Lake Geneva. The city’s small size allows it to respond faster than the nation so it can also foreshadow the path the nation, might follow. The immediate impact of the Coronavirus response was a restriction on travel and tourism, which is the lifeline of Lake Geneva’s local economy. The social and physical isolation and separation imposed on U.S. citizens, in response to the Coronavirus may be a good way to limit the spread of the virus, but unless it is of very short duration, it will also economically cripple the city and the nation. The economic impact has already closed the city down at a time when spring break would produce a spike to local revenues (after months of little traffic and income) and indicate the start of a new tourist season. If prolonged, it will have a devastating economic impact on the city’s summer tourist season.
Even though the City of Lake Geneva’s closeness to the Chicago area normally allows it to fare better during a recession than most resort areas, the fear of an invisible virus will linger on into the summer and that, combined with the potential for an economic recession, will no doubt cause a significant reduction in travel and tourism this year. Knowing, or anticipating, a reduction in tourists and tourist revenue this summer, the city council needs to start making significant cuts in this year’s spending. To balance the city’s current budget revenue shortfall Lake Geneva leaders were looking at raising parking rates to cover a projected tourist revenue shortfall this summer. Unlike the federal government, the city cannot borrow money to cover operating expenses.
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In addition, the Coronavirus is impacting the city’s election by causing the cancellation of the local debate among the candidates for city offices. The cancelation benefits incumbents, and negatively impacts the lesser-known candidates. The debate cancellation may have a longer-lasting effect on the City of Lake Geneva than the Coronavirus itself.
This 2020 election is the first time since 2011 that there has been a full slate of candidates in which every city office up for election is being contested. This occurred because many residents are opposed to the development plans that the current city officials have been promoting. If a sufficient number of challengers do not win, then that could determine or seal the fate of the three major issues involved, which include a Lake Shore Drive rerouting through BigFoot Park and moving the city’s boat launch to the Maytag Lagoon, and of course, the fate of Hillmoor.
Mayor Tom Hartz