Sunset Homes condominiums.
WAUKESHA - A controversial amendment that
would have allowed for a $1.6 million loan to the Sunset
Homes condominiums association was voted down by the
Waukesha Common Council, two weeks after that body
approved the very same measure.
The council voted in favor of a measure to re-discuss
the item Tuesday evening after some aldermen felt there were
unanswered questions left over from its Sept. 1 meeting.
But after no aldermen discussed the item, the council
voted 9-5 against the measure.
The amendment has drawn considerable attention since
its approval, sparking Alderman Aaron Perry and some members of the
public to ask Mayor Shawn Reilly to use his veto power on the
But after the amendment was signed by Council
President Andy Reiland - who was filling in for Reilly while he was
on vacation - it could not be vetoed. The only way it could be
revisited was if a council member who originally voted for the plan
requested a motion to reconsider. Last week, Alderman Adam Jankowski
did just that, asking Reilly to add the item to Tuesday night’s
Common Council agenda.
“The reason I brought this forward tonight is because
there are a lot of questions that still have yet to be answered,”
Jankowski said, “and I know a lot of people want to have answers.”
He said he didn’t make the motion because he felt the
council had made a mistake in its Sept. 1 vote, but he did so to
allow aldermen to continue discussing an item the council and
residents spent more than two hours talking about at the previous
Jankowski’s motion was approved by the council in an
11-3 vote. However, the 14 aldermen remained silent after the motion
was approved, discussion was closed, permitting the council to vote
again on the amendment.
Aldermen Daniel Manion and Kathleen Cummings
initially voted in favor of the amendment Sept. 1, but changed their
votes Tuesday night. Alderman Andy Reiland was unable to vote at the
previous meeting while serving as acting mayor, but he too voted
against the measure Tuesday.
A risky loan?
The amendment would have altered the project plan for
Tax Incremental Financing District No. 22, permitting the city to
make a loan to the condo association for repairing leaky roofs,
deteriorated siding and worn-out parking surfaces.
The council’s Sept. 1 decision changed the TID
district, but the loan between the city and Sunset Homes had not
been drafted or finalized - a distinction Alderman Vance Skinner
wanted to make clear before the council voted on the proposed
In 2009, the 120 Sunset Homes units were each
assessed at over $100,000, but six years later they are now worth
just over $50,000, according to a city report. If the amendment
stands, the loan would be made to the Sunset Homes condo association
and would be paid back through increased condo association fees over
the next 15 years.
In a July 22 email to Community Development Director
Jennifer Andrews, Running said he was “very skeptical” about the
condo association’s ability to secure loans adequately and wanted to
see their financials and tax returns for the last five to 10 years.
“Even if we get an assignment of dues, all that does
is give us the right to sue the unit owners for their dues if the
association defaults,” Running said in the email, “having the right
to file 120 separate lawsuits (worst-case scenario) is not much
Multiple members of the public spoke out against the
amendment and the proposed loan - calling it “high-risk” and citing
an independent study that reportedly found the condos need
approximately $3.8 million in repairs - at the Sept. 1 meeting and
continued to do so following its approval at that meeting.
Despite the perceived risk, Daniel Miske - an
attorney with Whyte, Hirschboeck & Dudek S.C. who represents
hundreds of condo and homeowners associations including that of
Sunset Homes - said during public comment he was not aware of any
loan to a condo association nationwide that has ever been defaulted
“It can’t happen,” he said. “...it would require all
120 unit owners to file bankruptcy. It is not a risky loan."