The Lake Geneva Police Department.
The department has had its hands full over the past few weekends, with large moving crowds forming in town, in contravention of the “safe-at-home” orders put out by the governor. Police Chief Mike Rasmussen spoke about this issue at the finance, licensing, and regulation committee meeting last week. The concern he, and the officers he works with, have is how to handle the increasing defiance regarding compliance with the social distancing recommendation, and how to handle the out of line comments made towards officers by visitors. The police have not charged or arrested anyone yet, during this time of trouble, and don’t want to. The times we are all living in are extremely challenging. People are really starting to feel great stress and are looking for ways to get their lives back to normal. Protests and rallies have been popping up everywhere, as the public is fighting for what it perceives to be its rights.
Chief Rasmussen reminded everyone at the meeting that back in the day (60’s & 70’s), Lake Geneva was a hot spot for protests and he is grateful that has not been the case so far with respect to the virus crisis. With the rising temperature of oncoming summer, the crowds will increase around the lake, and the police department wants to make sure it has the tools in place to help regulate inappropriate behavior without going to extremes. The FLR Committee voted unanimously to recommend ordinance 20-03, which, will allow the police to ticket violators of the emergency orders instead of arresting and incarcerating. Chief Rasmussen reassured the committee that the officers are all trained to be patient and ask for compliance first, and then revert to ticketing if refusals are made to those requests for compliance.
Money, or lack of it, seems to be on everyone’s mind lately.
The city is no exception. Budget shortfalls and reductions of expenditures for 2020 will make this a challenging year for Lake Geneva city officials. With the loss of parking revenue, room tax dollars declining, and likely beach pass revenue losses, the city is looking to be in a pretty tight situation. City leaders are looking for creative ways to bring in revenue and also cut back on spending. Department heads are currently going over budgets and cutting back where they can, without cutting any staff members or work hours if at all possible. Some planned projects and equipment purchases are being put on hold. The parking program has been reactivated to salvage some revenue and liquor and tobacco license fees will not be waived, reduced, or deferred to help lessen the loss. The city’s budget is dependent on this income and would like to salvage what it can and not have to resort to any short term borrowing, but this may be a necessary option if the budget falls too short to manage. City officials reluctantly made these decisions as they all voiced concern for how any changes might affect citizens and visitors alike.