WILLIAMS BAY — Leaders of the Geneva Lake Environmental Agency would like to meet with members of the Lake Geneva City Council.
The city council narrowly avoided voting Dec. 11 to take the first step toward withdrawing from the intergovernmental agency that works to protect water quality on Geneva Lake.
As a result, the environmental group’s board of directors is extending an invitation through the organization’s Lake Geneva representative, Alderwoman Cindy Flower.
At the agency’s board of directors meeting Jan. 19, GLEA Director Ted Peters asked Flower what prompted the suggestion that the city post notice that it wanted to renegotiate its contract with GLEA.
“They feel the town of Linn should pay more and the town of Walworth should pay something,” Flower said of her colleagues in Lake Geneva.
Peters said the town of Walworth is allowed to forgo paying a fee to the organization because the town has only a small section of the lakefront, with three or four homes.
“I feel that lake management should be paid for by those who use this lake,” Peters said.
Flower responded that the issue started with questions about why the city of Lake Geneva was paying to test wells in the town of Linn.
The GLEA is charged with monitoring Geneva Lake and keeping records on changes in the lake environment. The agency tracks water temperature, tests beaches for bacteria during swimming season, and investigates unusual conditions in the lake.
The villages of Fontana and Williams Bay and the town of Linn are also members of the GLEA, along with Lake Geneva and Walworth.
Except for Walworth, each municipality pays $20,000 a year to help support the agency, which is also funded through private donations and outside grants.
Lake Geneva Alderman Bob Kordus, who proposed trying to reopen the GLEA contract, said he never the intended for the city to actually withdraw from the environmental group.
Kordus said the regional arrangement for operating the group has not been reviewed in many years.
“I don’t think we’re getting cheated,” he said. “I just want to crack open the can.”
The city council voted by a narrow 4-3 margin to continue funding GLEA without reopening the contract, which would technically require notifying the group of Lake Geneva’s intent to withdraw.
Rick Pappas, a Fontana representative on the GLEA board, said the neighboring municipalities spent years trying to quantify which communities used how much of the lake.
It could not be done, so it was decided by consensus of the member communities that each community would kick in an equal amount, Pappas said.
“It’s such a small amount — $20,000,” Pappas said. “Just the beach bacteria check alone would be worth it.”