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Sunday

September 2014

21

Things not on par for golf course, ski hill

Highlands of Olympia in receivership

City of Oconomowoc - A Milwaukee law firm hopes to work with the city on the best way to move forward after its client has taken over receivership of the Olympia Sports Center formerly managed by Jeff Statz.

The ski hill and golf course - which are separate from the hotel resort - is at risk of losing its liquor license because of more than $36,000 in delinquent taxes and $150 in other past due bills owed to the city. Attorney Timothy Van de Kamp of O'Neil Cannon Hollman DeJong and Laing was at a special Common Council meeting Tuesday in hopes of earning council's approval of a 12-month plan to pay off the debt.

"We believe this is the most effective and quickest way for the city to get paid," said Van De Kamp adding they would be willing to modify the plan if the city had other suggestions.

Van De Kamp explained that the his client, Seth Dizard, who is also a member of the firm, does not have the funds to pay off the taxes by the June 29 deadline to retain the license for another year. "My concern is if the payments are made, they would then have to come from the bank (Ixonia State Bank) and I'm not sure if it can finance the full amount," he said.

Van De Kamp later explained that Ixonia State Bank is the creditor with the largest stake in the business, but it is not under any obligation to pay the taxes. He said that would be a second option to make the deadline, but as of Wednesday he wasn't sure if the bank would decide to do that. Van De Kamp stressed Tuesday night that if the liquor license was not renewed, that the business could cease to operate entirely.

"There's a real possibility that all operations will shut down if the bank can't make the payment and that could take away from the resale value," he told the Common Council.

Casey Bingham and Brent Milkey leased the ski area last year and have intentions to run it again this winter, but they said Tuesday that the liquor license is crucial to operations.

"I think it (ski hill) is an asset to the community. We have kids come every day and the parents like to watch them take lessons from the bar," Bingham said.

Mayor Jim Daley did not entertain the idea of the payment plan and moved to not renew the license. However, he included in his motion reserving the liquor license for the property in an effort to help the marketability of the property.

"I sympathize with the ski hill operators but the receivers need to operate the business the way it's supposed to be operated. You're asking for an exception while another business tonight was in a similar position," Daley said. The mayor was referring to downtown wine business Vino Etcetera that is in jeopardy of losing its liquor license if the property owner of the building its housed in does not pay $6,400 in past due taxes by June 29. City Clerk Diane Coenen said the building's owner has made arrangements to pay the money in full by the end of business on June 29. The Council moved to approve on the condition the taxes are paid by then.

Alderman Dave Nold agreed with Daley saying it's not fair to another course in the city that paid its taxes on time. "I don't want to appear we're playing favorites," Nold said. Council unanimously approved denying the request and reserving the license for the property. If the taxes are paid, the license would be renewed for 2012-13.

When asked his reaction to the decision, Van De Kamp said they understand why the city felt it had to do that. "We will keep working with them," on what's the best move for the future of the property, he said.

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