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The Vanguard

Jefferson Davis is a longtime resident of Menomonee Falls. He is the proud parent of two wonderful boys. He enjoys singing, volunteering, reading, gardening, politics, antiques, history, guitar, violin, piano, officiating, helping neighbors and yard work. He served as Village President of Menomonee Falls from 2003-05. He is a member of Northbrook Church and serves on the Advisory Council for the Salvation Army Rehabilitation Center. He is an independent registered representative practicing in the areas of insurance, investments and retirement.

Village Falls Fest Non-Profit Group Pay Delinquent Property Taxes of Nearly $22,000 on Empty Theater From 2009-10

Falls Fest Delinquent Property Taxes

Falls Fest Delinquent on Property Taxes from 2009-10 for Empty Theater on Main Street Reached $22,000

In another example of, "...don't do as we do, do as we say", current and former Village Board Members that make up the non-profit corporation group, Falls Fest, have finally made good on their delinquent property taxes from 2009 and 2010 for nearly $22,000

The Waukesha County Treasurer's Office (http://tax.waukeshacounty.gov/Default.aspx) confirms that Falls Fest finally made their delinquent property tax payments from 2009 and 2010 on November 23, 2011 for the empty theater at N88 W15377 Main Street.

The breakdown of the delinquent property tax payments for the empty theater by Falls Fest is as follows:

  • 2009 - Taxes - $7,144.62 - Interest - $714.46 - Penalty - $357.23 - Total = $8,216.31 
  • 2010 - Taxes - $9,902.67 - Interest - $2,178.59 - Penalty - $1,089.29 - Total = $13,170.55

Property taxes for Falls Fest dropped by almost $2,800 in one year or some 28%!

Unless someone is on the Village Board or on the Falls Fest Board, does anyone's property in Menomonee Falls have their property taxes go down by 28% in one year?

The Estimated Fair Market Value (EFMV) for the Falls Fest empty theater on Main Street for the last two years is as follows:

        *2009 EFMV - $576,400

        *2010 EFMV - $390,900

A drop in value of 32%!

While property values have been challenged in the village lately, does anyone's property value go down by 32% unless that someone is on the Village Board or Falls Fest Board? 

The theater had an estimated fair market value of nearly $1,000,000 in 2002 when Falls Fest purchased it from Marcus Theaters for $250,000 after the Village Board sealed a deal with Marcus for 4 new screens in exchange for giving Falls Fest the theater at a 75% discount in early 2003.

Falls Fest Make Up

According to the Guidestar non-profit website (www.guidestar.org), Falls Fest was incorporated in the mid-'90's as a 501(c) non-profit corporation required to file Federal Income Tax Form 990 annually.

Throughout the years current and former Village Board Members have been affiliated with, had knowledge of operations and or have served as Directors on the Falls Fest Board.

It is unclear as to who exactly serves with Falls Fest because it is run like a secret society with former Village President, Bob Steliga, serving as Falls Fest President and current Village Trustee, Jeff Steliga, serving as Treasurer.

The books for Falls Fest are kept in the care of Bob Steliga who promotes himself as an accountant from West Allis and normally signs the 990 Federal Income Tax Returns.

The following Village Trustees, Village Officials and or Waukesha County Supervisors have been affiliated with, had knowledge of operations and or are serving with Falls Fest in some capacity:

  1. County Supervisor and Trustee Jim Jeskewitz
  2. County Board Chairman and Trustee Jim Dwyer
  3. Trustee Mike McDonald
  4. Village President Joe Greco
  5. Supervisor and Trustee Don Broesch
  6. Trustee Dennis Farrell
  7. Village Manager Dick Farrenkopf
  8. Village Attorney Mike Morse
  9. Trustee Sharon Ellis
  10. Police Chief Jack Pitroff
  11. Police Chief Darrick Otto
  12. Police Chief Anna Ruzinski
  13. Attorney and Village President Rick Rechlicz
  14. Trustee and Falls Fest Treasurer Jeff Steliga
  15. Village President and Falls Fest President Bob Steliga
  16. Village President Randy Newman
  17. Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald

With all of these individuals having knowledge of and or personal involvement with Falls Fest over the last 15-20 years, it would be easy to suggest that some or all of them would have said or done something about the non-profit corporation organization being delinquent with their property taxes while everyone else is expected to pay their property tax bill on time or face prosecution for delinquency by the Village.

Falls Fest Appears to Have a Dark Past with Questionable Real Estate Dealings and Taxpayer Funding in Exchange for Votes by Village Board

With a nearly total blackout by the local press and media, Falls Fest has been able to operate under the radar screen knowing that they will not be held accountable for using their public office positions to gain favor for their non-profit corporation.

Falls Fest has done good things for the village over the years primarily through Village assistance in many deals and transactions.

The volunteers have given back to the community.

Favorable public policy by the Village Board toward Falls Fest is largely left unquestioned because the "establishment" doesn't like being questioned and when they are they will turn their "operation research and destroy machine" on those who dare to challenge the many questionable public policy decisions made by the Village Board that only favors Falls Fest and no one else.

The Vanguard  has written about some of the many questionable Falls Fest operations that would not be allowed to happen if it were anyone else.

The local press and media has over the years allowed Falls Fest to go unchallenged for all of the following matters of questionable favoritism by Village Officials, legal authorities and the Village Board as though this type of behavior is an acceptable standard mostly at taxpayers' expense:

$22,000 Delinquent Property Tax Payment Comes Shortly After Wal Mart Deal is Sealed by Village Board

The Village Board unanimously approved in August of 2011 to give the Wal Mart Developer from Tennessee, Gatlin Development, somewhere between $800,000 - $1,000,000 in taxpayer funds as part of the redevelopment plan for the old Piggly Wiggly Shopping Mall area at the corner of Main St. and Pilgrim Road.

In a flagrant act of journalism, it was reported (http://www.jsonline.com/business/127912593.html) that these taxpayer funds were to be used for the empty gas station at that site.

In an amazing act of coincidence, the gas station is still there and work on razing the theater started this week just days after Falls Fest paid their $22,000 in delinquent property taxes to Waukesha County for the empty theater on November 23, 2011.

A tipster to The Vanguard, who is an insider with Falls Fest, stated the theater was going to be sold to the Wal Mart Developer, Gatlin, in September/October shortly after the Village Board approved the taxpayer funds to be given to Gatlin.

The theater had been a financial black hole and an albatross for Falls Fest because too much money was going out the door every year ($30,000-$35,000) for expenditures with no revenues being received.

Falls Fest had shown a nearly $50,000 loss on their tax returns in the mid to late 2000's.

The theater was reported to have allegedly been sold many times by the local press over the years only to have been put back on the market.

Falls Fest, who is notorious for filing their tax returns late including their 2010 Return, has a healthy cash balance on hand according to their tax returns that would be more than enough to pay their 10 year old $16,500 delinquent library pledge and their 2 year old $22,000 delinquent property tax bill.

Falls Fest has cut back substantially with their community donations to the point where it has dwindled to an amount in the $10,000 a year range or maybe less.

Falls Fest grosses somewhere between $150,000 - $175,000 annually and only gives away about 5-6% of that amount in donations to the community.

Hardly being charitable for non-profit standards.

No one believes the Falls Fest event costs what the Steliga's report it to be at an average of $120,000 - $130,000 a year on their tax returns.

Jeff Steliga has been contacted numerous times asking for the selling price of the theater to Gatlin Development and how much did Falls Fest gain from flipping the property.

He refuses to answer any questions.

Gatlin Development has been asked the same question and they refuse to answer.

Waukesha County will give the public the answer when the sale is recorded with them.

An Open Records Request with the Village will also reveal the curious timing of the recent property tax payment by Falls Fest when the taxpayer fund payment to Gatlin Development is shown to have been made to Falls Fest for the theater.

With the recent windfall for Falls Fest with the sale of their empty theater to Gatlin Development, it is hoped that the 10 year old Library Pledge will finally be paid by the Steliga Boys and Falls Fest for $16,500.

Comments Welcome

Readers are invited to leave their comments on Village Public Policy matters involving the Steliga's and Falls Fest.

This interesting turn of events should make for some intriguing comments for the defenders of the status quo and their beloved Falls Fest.

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