Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Internet exclusive: Fontana Trustee Candidates

March 31, 2011

Here are additional candidate responses that werenít posted in the March 31 addition of the Regional News.

In the past few years, the village has opted to increase user fees instead of property taxes. Is this the right approach? Or, to balance the budget, should the village look at cutting services. Include specifics in your answer. (limit: 150 words)

From Incumbent Thomas McGreevy:

I have fully supported every effort to not raise our property taxes and am proud of the quality of services that Fontana provides to its taxpayers. This yearís budget was difficult to balance as we had to deal with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue changing the formula of our Tax Increment District overnight causing a large shortfall that needed to be covered. Inflation cannot be avoided so it is imperative that we lure additional businesses into Fontana in an effort to create more jobs and revenue.

From Incumbent George Spadoni:

The majority of the current board has voted to increase many of the user fees (beach passes, parking fees, slip Lease fees, building permit fees) that has cost the village of Fontana, real dollars. For example, the majority of the current board voted to raise the commercial launch fees and the result of this decision was a decrease in revenue from a high of $15,000 to a low in 2010 of just $6,000. This is a lost of $9,000 in revenue and there are many other examples. If the board is allowed to continue to raise the various user fees in the village of Fontana it is my belief that this downward economic trend will continue. Balancing the budget is not as hard as some make it out to be. As a Board Member you must think and act as a business, not a government. I have suggested many times that we currently have approximately 58 expenses line items in our budget and we should look at cutting our expenses first, before we take the issue of cutting any services to the community. We have not done this.

From Incumbent Micki OíConnell:

There was a lot of time devoted to the study of user fees during our budgeting process. I would not be in favor of any further increases and the raising of property taxes should be our last option. Stimulating development in the TIF District would generate funds and, consequently, help to reduce our existing debt.

From challenger Rick Pappas:

Municipalities in Wisconsin are currently limited to a 2.2 percent increase in their tax levy from year to year. The 2.2 percent increase is not enough to fund the ever increasing costs of operating the village. Increases in user fees have helped fill budget gaps, but those increases are limited by market forces and alone canít solve all the budgetary issues. To balance the budget the village should do everything possible to avoid cutting services. Some of the budgetary pressures are beyond our control. For instance complying with new state and federal government mandates (i.e. new standards for street signs or police, fire and EMS communication upgrades and Smart Growth master plans) without any corresponding funding. Improving our short term and long term capital improvement planning will lead to budget savings in the future. The goal should be to protect the current high level of services through better planning.