Tags: Bloomfield-Genoa, GC Village Hall
August 20, 2013 | 12:54 PMGENOA CITY — And now, let's pull back the curtain.
In response to a recent open records request by the Regional News, three board members and the village clerk-treasurer have provided emails and documents related to the hotly-debated village hall issue.
The emails and documents not only indicate the amount of work going into the matter of how to address the structural and space concerns of the hall, but other issues.
Emails were provided that show discussions about making purchase offers on land, how a controversial ordinance came before the board and a suggestion from one official that another could conduct an "informal polling" of trustees outside of a board meeting.
The emails alone total more than 600 pages.
Documents that were provided will be posted soon on the Regional News website.
Most of the emails came from Karen Bullock, a village trustee who is chairwoman of the Village Hall Committee. Other emails were provided by Village President Bill Antti, Clerk-Treasurer Claudia Jurewicz and Trustee Eric Boxer.
Trustees Alan Cornue and Roger Cagann stated they did not have emails or documents pertaining to the village hall.
In an email May 5, Bullock asked Antti how it would be best to find out what other board members think about the issue.
Antti suggested that Bullock poll board members "one on one."
In a Saturday phone interview, Antti said he regrets stating that.
He said he's not trying to be sneaky or to do anything illegal or immoral.
The email was "more me thinking out loud," he said.
"We didn't do that," said Antti about polling board members. "I don't know how anybody's leaning. I think, quite frankly, they don't have all the information yet to make a decision."
So why suggest the poll in May?
"It's probably something that we shouldn't do, and I probably shouldn't have said something like that to (Bullock)," Antti said.
In a Friday interview, Bullock also said board members were not polled.
"The reason I asked (Antti) is you don't want to put a ton of effort in the project if you don't have support," she said.
In an email Saturday, Bullock states it appears her May 4 correspondence with Antti "arose from Bill's question to me, which was in a voice mail message, about how other board members felt about the project."
Bullock and Antti said they talked to Jurewicz about it. Jurewicz told them it wasn't appropriate to approach the other board members, "and I didn't," said Bullock.
Earlier this year, the committee officially began to investigate the structural and space concerns of the current village hall, 715 Walworth St., which also is the location of the village's police department and fire station.
The committee was charged with researching three options — rebuilding the village hall, fixing the current building or relocating.
During previous interviews, Antti and Bullock have said with the village's Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) district closing at year's end, it could be the right time to pay for a village hall project.
That TIF is the reason officials often cite in response to why Genoa City's tax rate is so high.
Antti gave an analogy.
Suppose the village property tax rate is $10 per $1,000 of equalized value, and say the TIF closure reduces the rate to $5. A village hall project may increase the rate to $7, he said.
But a group emerged this summer that wants the tax rate to drop as far as it can.
On July 11, a group of residents submitted a petition calling for direct legislation — a referendum vote — for projects that cost more than $500,000.
That evening, the village board adopted an ordinance for direct legislation for projects that cost more than $2 million.
Village Attorney Linda Gray said the ordinance adopted by the board is what takes effect — not the ordinance in the petition.
Recently, the Walworth County Sheriff's Department investigated the Genoa City Village Board for open meetings law violations.
The project thus far has been mostly research.
In July, the committee took relocation off the table. On Aug. 8, the board hired Kueny Architects, Pleasant Prairie.For what remains to be determined by the board.
Bullock said her committee is expected to recommend action to the board.
Of the three main options, the committee pushed one, relocation, off the table in July, she said, "because there really isn't a location that's suitable."