City budgets are a window into the city’s finances.
They can be straightforward and technically accurate, or disguised to look that way while hiding the truth. To give an example of disguised truth; assume that there was a two-car race between the Russians and the Americans and both agreed to publish the results. Well, the Americans won the race, and as agreed, both countries published the results. The American papers reported that the Americans won the race and the Russian’s reported that the Russian came in second and the Americans came in next to last. Both of these statements are accurate, but one is misleading.
Just like the disguised truth on page 1 of the budget: “The Property Tax Levy” item 3 compared property tax mill rates in 2015 to 2018, and then said in item 4 that “A property taxpayer in 2015 paid $604 for city purposes whereas in 2019 the same property owner will pay $584, a $20 reduction (-4%)”; however that is only true for investors who own unimproved land, such as developers and those speculating on unimproved land, because property assessments on such land is frozen in the City of Lake Geneva even though the value of the land increases; whereas, if there are improvements on the land, such as a house, then the property is assessed at the market value of the property and all the increases are placed on the improvements. So, unlike the $20 reduction per 100 thousand received by one vested in unimproved land, a homeowner because of inflation would have gotten a $24 increase per 100 thousand-dollar value for the city’s portion of the tax bill and a $96 increase per 100 thousand in the total tax bill. Whereas, the investor received an $80 reduction per 100 thousand on that total tax bill. Another bit of juggling that also benefitted the land investors at the expense of residents occurred when the city transferred the $240,710 fire hydrant rental fee from the city’s property tax to the resident’s water bills. That change is listed on page 2 and by itself should have reduced the city’s portion of the property taxes by about 5% by making homeowners pay the entire $240,710 on those water bills while exempting those vested in unimproved land from paying any part of that bill.
Cartoon by Terry O’Neill
The ice rink is coming!
You’ve seen it in movies but may never have the privilege of walking through Central Park in New York and seeing ice skaters skate at the iconic Wollman Rink to music and enjoying the seasonal winter activity. Lake Geneva may be a far cry from Central Park, but Bridget Leech has done a phenomenal job of bringing a slice of that experience to Flat Iron Park. Soon a temporary forty by eighty-foot ice rink will be erected this winter season in Flat Iron Park. The ice rink will be free of charge, and the Streets of Lake Geneva is hoping to provide ice skates to all. If you are interested in donating gently used skates, Santa’s Workshop is accepting them at 875 Main St. Jim Stoller, owner of Nicerink from Twin Lakes, along with Lake Geneva’s BID, (Bridget Leech) have partnered up to bring Lake Geneva some cold weather activities, and interest during the dormant, or usually dormant colder months. Because the rink will not be covered, the weather could affect its use. But adventurous and recreational skaters who have used the lake for skating in the past, and relied on mother nature to maintain the skating surface and thickness of the ice, won’t have to worry about falling through the ice in Flat Iron Park. It may or may not be something the City will continue to do each winter, or the rink may not be big enough, but for this season, it’s a great Instagram-worthy experience and should be a lot of fun.