City Drops Annual Campground License Fee

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March 30, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Campgrounds in the City of Wisconsin Dells, Wis., will no longer pay an annual license fee based on the number of sites they have.

The Wisconsin Dells Council's Finance Committee agreed with Nick Laskaris and did away with a $40 per-site annual license fee, Wisconsin Dells Events reported.

Laskaris, owner of Mt Olympus, who has purchased the former American World RV camp, told the city's plan commission March 16 that he was considering expanding and developing a larger campground. It could go by the RV camp in Wisconsin Dells on former Big Chief go-kart tracks or could be put on property that was once a campground in Lake Delton. Laskaris said then he would like to develop it in Wisconsin Dells, but found the city's annual license fee "silly."

On March 21, Laskaris appeared before the finance committee to argue that campgrounds like motels should not be charged an annual license fee. Laskaris estimated that with 200 sites, the campground would bring about $10,000 per year in premier resort tax to the city and about $5,000 in room tax. He said he did not mind paying the premier resort tax or room tax because customers have to pay that, but the $8,000 in license fees would come out of his pocket.

Bradley Gussel, owner of Sherwood Forest Campground, that was annexed into the city last year, also said the $8,000 fee for his 200 sites was "a lot of money."

Many city business people have complained that the people staying at the large resorts never leave to come downtown shopping, going to attractions or visiting restaurants or bars.

Gussel also said the city did not need to inspect campground since the state already does that.

Alderman Dan Gavinski said he would rather have the campground in the city than to have it go elsewhere.

Mayor Eric Helland, who said he loved campgrounds, said the city would still have to review site plans since Laskaris' campground would be a new one. That has an up front fee to cover costs, he said.

"Why be petty," Laskaris said.

"We're trying to be fair and even-handed," Helland said, adding that the city would love to have him develop the campground in it but the fire department would have to review it.

The committee voted unanimously to eliminate the license fee.

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