Property Tax Demon
Property Tax Demon

The city of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin balanced their 2009 budget with the last of it’s 2006 bond issue proceeds. Residents will be paying off one bond issue till 2010, and making payments on the other till 2016.

In 2006 Lake Geneva floated one bond issue of $4.39M with level payments amortized over 10 years and another issue of $1.11M  that will be paid off in March of 2010. The last of  the proceeds of those bonds were spent in 2009 for capital projects. For example the politically powerful Lake Geneva Fire Department purchased another ambulance (resulting in four) at $140K by raiding a sinking fund for equipment purchases in 2012.

Despite earlier assurances by Finance Chairman Alderman Krause that taxpayers that will see no increase, Lake Geneva’s (LG) portion of your real estate tax bill will increase 3.6% in 2010.The consumer price index for all urban consumers has decreased .2% in the last 12 months.

Chairman Krause reported that over $1M in requests for capital purchases were axed in the 2010 budget, except $70K for roads and $200K for new technology (ProPhoenix) which will help the the Lake Geneva Police Department comply with a new State of Wisconsin mandate for all electronic reporting.

Finally after 15 years one of LG’s two TIF districts was closed, TID #3 (Geneva Lake Developments Corporation’s). The closing of the district added almost $100K in revenue to LG’s bottom line, helping to mitigate revenue losses in other areas like parking fees, room tax, interest income.

It is unclear if the 2010 budget allows for a increase in salaries for  city personal subject to union contracts.The union contracts for Fire, Police, Street, and Office workers expires  on 12.31.2009. City management (staff), not subject to union contract, will receive no salary increase.

Spyro Condos believed staff should get an increase of 3%; that it is “demoralizing” to not give them a raise when others are getting raises. Mr. Condos questioned why the city was going to write off between $300K – $400K  in open accounts receivables . According to Mayor Chesen if staff had gotten raises, that would have resulted to over $100K increase in city expenditures.

Alderperson Roehrer is bothered with passing a budget when the audit for 2008 has not been completed. The new city Controller needed help in catching up with the books that were not kept up by the prior Controller, but according to Roehrer the council was not notified of her need for help until recently.

A big variable in next years budget is the Undesignated Reserve Fund (URF) balance which will not be known till the audits of 2008 and 2009 is completed. Comptroller Pollitt is not a fan of reducing the URF down to the bare minimum. The URF has three components:
1. As a cash flow cushion between when the city receives property tax payments.
2.As a rainy day fund in case of unexpected emergencies.
3.As a indicator of a municipalities financial health.

Business Administrator Jordan pointed out that LG has had the ability to tap into revenue from the lake front and parking funds. In 2001 the city took 25% of the revenue from these funds for general fund expenses, the rest went into reserve; for the 2010 budget all of their revenue went into the general fund. Health insurance costs for the city increased 8% in 2009. The 2010 budget started with the assumption there would be no furloughs or reduction of city services.

The breakdown Lake Geneva Wisconsin’s real estate tax bill:

  • City: 3.6% increase
  • State: 5.3% increase
  • County: 3.5% increase
  • LG joint 1 schools: 5.1% increase
  • Gateway Tech.: 6.4% increase
  • LG/Genoa school: 2.4% increase

Voting for the city 2010 budget: Tolar, Krohn, Marcella, Krause,and Roehrer (reluctantly).
Voting against the budget increase: Spellman, and Fesenmaier.

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