Discussion of intergovernmental agreement dominates Paris annual meeting


Discussion concerning the recently approved  intergovernmental agreement with Somers dominated a marathon Paris annual meeting Tuesday evening.

An audience of over 60 people at its peak asked questions of the board and at times making motions, most of which ultimately were advisory only. The meeting started at 7 p.m. and adjourned at about 10:25 p.m.

On April 7, the board approved an intergovernmental agreement with the village of Somers. That agreement designated about 2,500 acres of land now in Paris be annexed by Somers, with the idea that both municipalities would share future revenue coming from development of the land and it would protect Paris from further annexations. Villages have some powers to spur development unavailable to towns. Paris would also pay Somers $1.25 million and fund two loan funds for Somers. Kenosha, the likely provider of water and sewer service to the area, opposed the agreement and has mounted a legal challenge. A circuit court judge granted an injunction preventing the annexation from moving forward on April 15.

Most of the audience — or at least of those who spoke at some point — appeared to be made up of people in the corridor that would be annexed into Somers under the agreement.

At annual town meetings, electors are permitted to make and vote on motions. Some specific actions are authorized by state statute for direct action. Any other motions are considered advisory to the town board.

The one direct motion that could have taken effect, was withdrawn after discussion. Resident Don Taylor had motioned to remove any compensation for members of the Town Board, but several members of the audience commented that they felt that was not appropriate and Taylor withdrew his motion.

One advisory motion appeared that it might be implemented by the  board. A motion passed that asked that the Town Board convene and adjourn all open session meetings in the regular meeting room, and only meet in a smaller adjacent room when in closed session. That came about when audience members were angry about how a closed session scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday was carried out.

Town Chairman Virgil Gentz said he felt the new procedure was a good one and he would like the board to follow it.

One of the several advisory motions of the evening served as a referendum of sorts gauging the sentiments of people in attendance about the  IGA. Former county Supervisor Mark Wisnefski motioned for the town to drop the annexation effort all together.

“It’s total confusion,” Wisnefski said.

Town attorney Tim Pruitt pointed out that “basically your motion is to breach the agreement,” but Wisnefski’s motion passed with a lopsided voice vote. Voting no were town Supervisor Ron Kammerzelt, Clerk Beverly McCumber and Plan Commission Chairman John Holloway.

Other advisory motions that passed included:

  • Limiting Town Board members to three consecutive terms.
  • Not overlaying the road surface for the next resurfacing of 128th Avenue.

In between motions, questions were asked of the board about the IGA and related issues. Town officials kept track of the questions and pledged to answer them soon, perhaps in a document mailed out to interested parties.

As the meeting drew close to an end, there was some discussion that crystallized the positions of both the corridor residents who oppose the IGA and the town officials who negotiated it and voted to approve it.

While many residents said they wanted to remain in Paris, not be annexed by Somers, resident Cindy Gates also addressed the economic plight of landowners in the corridor. She said she had been paying on her property for 25 years, but without sewer and water service her land would not be marketable. Somers cannot provide the service west of I-94 without Kenosha cooperation.

“I have no retirement now,” Gates said.

Just before the end of the meeting Holloway sought to clarify the town’s position toward including Kenosha in the agreement talks. He said when town officials approached Kenosha officials about the related issues they were “rebuffed and threatened.”

“Everybody is assuming Kenosha was going to be a willing partner in this,” Holloway said. “That was not the case.”

Taylor then asked Holloway “Do you really think Kenosha was looking to gobble up all of Paris?”

“Yes,” Holloway said emphatically.



  1. Open Government says:

    If there were questions asked in public, then, the answers should be given in public as well – that will stop all of this back room crap. That way everyone gets the same answer and everyone knows what the answer is. There was a meeting at 5:00????? Where???

  2. Nothing new in Paris says:

    This Board has to go. They having been making shady decisions for years. Zero transparency. Now they are hurting a huge portion of our population and giving Somers million of dollars in the process. Plus now the board is going to use our money to fight some of our own residents. Enough is enough. Wake up Paris!

  3. Nothing new in Paris says:

    RECALL time! No more games and illegal actions.

  4. 142 farmer says:

    This IGA has divided the town of Paris. Those who are being kicked out to join Somers are unhappy, understandably. Those that are not affected by the IGA feel more secure with this deal because they feel their property is now protected for the next 10 years from Somers, and permanently from Kenosha.

    But those of us who are being sacrificed for the safety of the rest of Paris are getting a really bad deal. Our taxes will go up right away. There is no guarantee that we will get sewer or water. This negates the possibility of us ever getting good value for our lands. No company is going to want to buy land that does not have sewer or water. In the meantime, our taxes will go up from day 1! How is that fair? Couldn’t they have made the deal so that our taxes would only go up once we get sewer and water? I guess Somers really needs the money right now. They are broke.

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