Paris residents voice opinions on county tax payments; town settles on paying 80%

SUMMARY:  The Paris Town Board voted to pay 80 percent of town property owners county property taxes starting next year. The town has been paying all of the county tax for land owners for about years from landfill fee revenue. The 2 to 1 vote came at a Town Board meeting Tuesday night.

Following is coverage we filed as it happened tonight:

About 75 people have packed the Paris Safety Building meeting room tonight to let the Town Board know what they think of the various proposals for the town to discontinue paying property owners county property taxes.

Due to fees received from the Waste Management Pheasant Run landfill Paris does not levy a town tax and pays propery owners county property tax.

With higher state tipping fees impacting the landfill business here, revenues have decreased drastically to the town and town officials have said it is time to consider reducing the amount of county taxes paid for property owners.

Town attorney Chris Geary gave a summary of the issue and outlined several options for the town going forward:

• Paris could pay a flat amount of the annual county tax per parcel.

• Taxes paid per type of property—residential vs. commercial or industrial.

• A percentage based approach with or without a cap.

Geary says his firm favors the percentage basis because they see it as the most defensible.

UPDATE 8:05 — Town Chairman Virgil Gentz just said the issue will be settled tonight.

UPDATE 8:17 — People have been commenting for over an hour. Most have said they favor a percentage paid. A couple have said that would be unfair.

UPDATE 8:20 p.m. — Gentz says he favors property owners paying 20 percent of their county tax bill.

UPDATE 8:24 p.m. — Supervisor Ron Kammerzelt also agrees with 20 percent. Makes a motion that the town pay 80 percent of property owners county taxes.

UPDATE 8:26 p.m. — Supervisor Ken Monson agrees with percentage but also proposes a cap. Geary says a cap can be easily explained to court, though it is not without possibility for legal challenge. Kammerzelt said he does not oppose a cap in the future, but he will not amend his motion to include it for this year. Geary says cap may introduce more trouble for county. “I guess I’m not interested in making this more convenient for the county,” Monson said.

UPDATE 8:31 p.m. — Gentz seconds Kammerzelt motion with no cap. “About a quarter of the money Waste Management pays to us we’re paying back to them. I don’t like that,” Monson said about not having a cap. Comment is answered with applause from the audience.

UPDATE 8:35 — Roll call vote 2 to 1 with Monson voting against.

Note: I intend to add some of the comments from the public later. — DH



  1. resident says:

    The Paris Town Board deserves an Academy Award for their performance last night. As I was leaving the meeting, I heard the phrase “cut and dried before the meeting even started” said a few times. Mr. Gentz speaks of transparency; but, the only thing you could see through last night was the fact that the whole public meeting portion was a “token” meeting for the people. A number of people asked what they intended to use the 20+ million for, and there were absolutely no answers given. Oh, excuse me, Mr. Gentz said something about a business/industrial park, and then said he already said to much. Does the board not think that the residents know what’s really going on behind closed doors? This money belongs to us too.
    My only hope is that at least three honest residents run for office next year. Mike said that the Town should be watching it’s own spending – kudos to him for saying that.
    Another resident said she appreciated the fact that the Town’s been paying the County taxes for this long. That’s very true – I too appreciate that fact; however, with over 20 million left in the bank, and the Town still getting a good amount of interest, why stop now. Just what is the Town planning on buying for that large amount of money?
    Another gentleman had given the town paperwork after the last meeting, but, I guess no one even looked at that very good. Kammerzelt would like to meet with this man to discuss this – why not discuss it openly?

  2. Nothing new to see here. says:

    Transparent as a brick wall. This board needs to go. Major mismanagement of our funds for years. I would bet the decision was made before the meeting ever started. If only they were so adamant about making quick decisions on other things. It’s time for the town to join together and demand transparency. No more games. The board needs new blood desperately.
    I am not that upset with this decision even though it is unnecessary. It’s more about the secret meetings and hiding information from the townspeople. That must change. If we are looking to the future let’s make some real changes.

  3. resident says:

    I must reiterate – Mike made a good point last night – he said that the Town should possibly curb their spending. Brighton is about the same size as us, and their budget is 363,000.00; Wheatland is about our size and their budget is 1.1 million. Paris budget is 1.3 million – why? Wheatland has a fire department and a police officer.
    I would just hope that before new blood comes in, the money is already spent. Secret meetings? Maybe that’s why the town has such a large sum of money going to attorney fees.

  4. Nothing new to see here. says:

    I am curious regarding your statement, “I would just hope that before new blood comes in, the money is already spent.” Could you elaborate on that. Thanks.

  5. resident says:

    Excuse me – I meant I hope the money ISN’T already spent. I only worry because last night Mr. Gentz made comment about a business/industrial park. Who’s going to fund this?????????? THAT’S what I’m worried about. I firmly believe that, if handled properly, the money will last a long time, IF handled properly.

  6. Northwestern Mike says:

    The board could not talk about ongoing negotiations. I would bet they plan to buy land to create an industrial park of some kind. They also mentioned a boundary agreement. I would wager this is with the city of Kenosha. To me a boundary agreement is a form a legalized extortion. Imagine something along the lines of, ‘I will annex your property unless you pay me some money not to.’ There was a closed session meeting before the 7pm meeting dealing with the I-94 corridor. The park would be funded from the $22 million reserve. Consider it an investment.

    The board mentioned letting resident know what was going on before making a decision. I don’t want this board making this type of decision. I want it put to the voters in a binding referendum.

    I also felt they had made up their minds before they came into that meeting. I wonder if they realize how this appears to residents.

  7. Northwestern Mike says:

    I’m OK with the decision. Henry B’s comment was most insightful. If the town pays for a boundary agreement there will be less principal that will earn interest. With less interest the hole in the budget will come back. Until the town receives more revenue they will need to ask residents to pay an even higher percentage of the county taxes. In the future I suspect residents will end up paying all of the county tax.

  8. Northwestern Mike says:

    I would fight a county tax cap on principle.

    It’s like the resident that wanted the town to pay full county taxes for those within a mile of the dump. Talk about self-serving.

    The town has revenue of $1.4 million and county taxes are about $1.1 million. They could pay the entire county tax if they could reduce town expense to $300 thousand. That should be possible for a township of 1600 residents

  9. resident says:

    Mike – Just because the town would fund that, don’t you think the City could still annex it? Or, are you suggesting that the Town BUY it? That’ll be an awful expensive farm field. Plus, I don’t feel comfortable with the three wise men making that sort of decision alone. I agree – the people need to vote on this.
    Yes, they could get buy on a $300,000.00 budget. With the new laws that are in force, everyone is having to tighten up on spending. Unfortunately, the board members forget that the money in the town is not really theirs to spend. The board is going to have to tighten the town’s spending a LOT.

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