The new Lake Geneva city administrator, Blaine Oborn, is settling in and taking control of the city’s operation. Hopefully he will make some long needed improvements in city government. Such as making city information and bidding truly open and accessible to the public, keeping an open ear to city residents, and not just those with financial or political influence, and reining in the city’s excessive spending. At the end of 2014, the city had spent virtually all-available funds, and been forced to transfer city funds into the general fund in order to maintain the minimum required general fund balance. That left the general fund owing $2.8 million at the end of 2014 (See: Inter-fund Payables page 40, of the 2014 audit if you are so inclined) when there was only $2.7 million in the general fund. Taxes collected in 2015 were then used to pay that $2.8 million dollar deficit.
Finances become even more complicated with the moratorium on TIF#4 spending and the future yearly loss of the $2 million in TID #4 revenue when it ends. The city’s misuse of TIF revenues to pay for normal city expenses: like roads, alleys, city equipment and the Riviera repairs, enabled the city to increase spending to a level that is not sustainable through the use of normal tax revenues. Also, putting Wisconsin State Transportation money into the general fund, and then borrowing money to repair the city roads, enabled the city to further increase city spending to an even more unsustainable level. In an attempt to maintain this unsustainable level of spending, the city spenders are pushing for the Premier Resort Tax as a solution to their financial irresponsibility. The city may again turn to borrowing to cover shortages, as it did last year when it borrowed and increased our city’s debt by $2 million. Increasing the city’s debt is not a acceptable solution to excessive spending.
City finance operations are not that much different from family financial operations. There is revenue, and then there are expenses. Those two things have to balance over time. The Lake Geneva City Council, and not the city administrator, determines the budget. But the city administrator’s insight infuses the foundation that should guide the city council’s spending decisions. And your feed back to the city administrator cannot be under estimated. Can Utah Blaine take the “rocked” science out of the city’s financial operations and bring things back to simplicity and sanity?
Citizen Jim Wilson took on Mayor Connors, and the Lake Geneva City Council, at Monday’s Meeting of the Whole Council, called to discuss the nullification of the Referendum controlling spending for large capital projects. Mr. Wilson was visibly upset when he admonished Connors and council for stealing this one democratic right the citizens of Lake Geneva voted to retain: the right to oversee expenditures over $1.05 M. Sure, the Council did pretend to replace it, but the revised Referendum Ordinance is a sham. Wilson let the Mayor and Council know the public was aware of the their betrayal.
Local activist Terry O’Neill complemented Wilson, and added that just because the voters recently didn’t agree with the mayor and council on the failed parking structure didn’t mean the public is stupid, unlike the implications of one particular alderman (rhymes with tortoise). According to O’Neill, Lake Geneva citizens were just too smart to be conned by this parking lot boondoggle, and that’s why the mayor and city council, in a fit of childish pique, diluted the spending referendum to make it useless. Fortunately, Alderman Chappell was absent from Monday’s meeting, and missed being any part of Mr. Wilson’s harsh reprimand. Ms. Chappell’s fellow alderpersons, and the mayor, rightly deserved to be targets. Chappell was the only alderperson who refused to go along with the scam to cheat the citizens out of having any control over future council spending when it comes to big financial projects.
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