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Geneva Lake Law Enforcement Agency asking lakefront communities to contribute additional funding next year

Commander Tom Hausner

Geneva Lake Law Enforcement Agency commander Tom Hausner posing in front of an police agency boat.

Officials from Geneva Lake Law Enforcement Agency are seeking about $18,000 in additional funding from lakefront communities next year to help pay for increased expenses.

The law enforcement agency is asking four lakefront communities to contribute $63,000 to its 2022 budget instead of $45,000, which the communities contributed to the agency’s 2020 and 2021 budgets.

The agency patrols Geneva Lake in areas of City of Lake Geneva, Town of Linn, Village of Williams Bay and Village of Fontana.

Commander Thomas Hausner of the Geneva Lake Law Enforcement Agency announced the funding request during a budget workshop meeting conducted by the Lake Geneva City Council’s Finance, Licensing & Regulation Committee, Oct. 6.

Hausner said the agency is in need of additional funding because it recently moved its headquarters from Williams Bay to Fontana and because of increased costs related to fuel, staff and computer equipment.

He said if each community contributes $63,000, the agency will have an additional $252,000 in its budget for 2022.

“Rent was doubled. Utilities were doubled. Computer costs have gone up,” Hausner said. “Fuel has gone up. Wages have gone up.”

Hausner said the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reimburses the communities up to 75% of the funding they contribute to the agency each year.

The communities usually are reimbursed about $25,000, but last year they were reimbursed about $31,000.

Alderman Ken Howell said he feels the City of Lake Geneva does not receive the same amount of enforcement from the agency as the other lakefront communities.

“We feel there’s a lot less involvement in the Lake Geneva area than there is in other places,” Howell said. “Is that because we’re so law abiding you don’t have to give out tickets here? We think we’re not getting coverage when other people are, and that’s a bone of contention.”

Hausner said the City of Lake Geneva receives the same amount of patrols as the other communities. He said his officers patrol Lake Geneva’s area of the lake as often as possible.

“We can’t control if people violate while we’re down here or not,” Hausner said. “I can tell you we don’t miss or avoid the City of Lake Geneva any more or any less than any other area of the lake, and the citations are proportionality related to the jurisdictional size of the lake.”

Alderman Richard Hedlund said he also feels the agency should enforce Lake Geneva’s area of the lake more often because of the boat rental facilities and because Riviera Beach and Big Foot State Park Beach are located within the community.

Hedlund said he has talked to other residents who feel that Lake Geneva is not receiving appropriate coverage from the agency.

“We are not your No. 1 warning or citation area on the lake,” Hedlund said. “In my way of thinking, Big Foot Beach is in Lake Geneva, and there’s always a lot of traffic there.”

Hausner said the swimming area of Big Foot Beach is located in Lake Geneva, but the rest of it is in the Town of Linn’s jurisdiction.

“So when we write tickets, a lot of them are in the Town of Linn versus in the City of Lake Geneva,” Hausner said. “Although we still write a fair amount in the city there.”

According to recent statistics presented by the Geneva Lake Law Enforcement Agency, 22 citations and 12 warnings were issued in the City of Lake Geneva; 38 citations and 15 warnings were issued in the Town of Linn; 38 citations and eight warnings were in issued in the Village of Williams Bay; and 29 citations and 17 warnings in the Village of Fontana this summer.

During the summer, the four communities contributed an additional $15,000— in addition to the $45,000 for the agency’s 2021 budget— to help pay for staff wages and other expenses for the rest of the year.

The agency was in need of the additional funding because of the costs related to moving its headquarters from Williams Bay to Fontana.

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