With less than a week until November’s general election, Lake Geneva voters are still in the dark about much of the proposed parking structure. City officials still have neglected to answer such basic questions that residents have been asking for years. What are the traffic impacts? How will residents benefit? Will residents have permit parking around Maple Park? The list goes on.
Nearly $7 million of property taxes collect under TIF 4 are in limbo and it seems Lake Geneva’s City administration hopes residents will base their vote on a pretty picture depicting an aesthetically pleasing parking structure design that consumes nearly half a block on Geneva St. in downtown Lake Geneva. The folksy $7 million garage unfortunately does not fix the parking problems in the city and instead adds another revenue generator to the city books. For a city administration that marshaled along the structures design process, their reluctance to provide answers to questions residents have been asking for years draws questionable skepticism. Why leave such an important vote up in limbo unless there is something to conceal?
Recently the Lake Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce sent out a red flyer touting “Saying YES won’t cost you a dime” on one side and a number of crafty messages designed to divert attention from the looming unanswered questions. How can residents trust a source that implies this parking structure comes at no cost to taxpayers? It is insulting to those taxpayers who have been and continue to be taxed collectively nearly $2 million dollars a year to fund projects like this, projects that don’t necessarily benefit the citizens but rather the business district and the city’s coffers. Those dimes have been stacking up since 1995, totaling to over 25 million and will continue to do so through 2017 unless the city council votes to close TIF 4 next spring. It is financial ideologies like these that make necessary a vote to grant the city permission to fund projects over $1,000,000.
Is this flyer even legal? Does the city not provide funds to the Lake Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce every year? The flyer clearly advocates for a yes vote on November’s ballot. Is this an appropriate use of funds? Is this a coordinated effort?
The question given to voters on November 4th, to request approval to construct a public parking structure located at 818 Geneva Street paid for by funds from the Tax Incremental District #4 at a cost not to exceed $6,999,995.00, is either a yes or a no. What to consider is not as cut and dry.
Will having a pay-to park garage entice you to visit the downtown area more? Do you want your tax-dollars spent subsidizing the downtown business district? Do you want more seasonal visitor congestion due to the city’s expanded parking capacity? In other words do you want lakeside town or tourist town USA? Is there a better use for these funds? Should they be redistributed to offset property taxes? Is this the right path for our lakeside community? Do you support a plan with so many unanswered questions and lacks transparency?
What’s most important is that you cast your vote on this matter. Make sure your opinion is heard. Yes or no, the city needs input to understand how residents want their government ran and tax dollars spent.
Election day is next Tuesday, November 4th.
Polls are open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm.
There are two polling locations. Districts 1 and 2 vote at City Hall and Districts 3 and 4 vote at the Fire Station.
Be sure to check out https://myvote.wi.gov/ to find your polling location.
The last day to vote absentee/In person ends Friday, October 31 at 5:00 p.m.
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