Marquette projects over $110k revenue loss due to pandemic

Error message

  • Warning: array_merge(): Expected parameter 1 to be an array, bool given in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 133 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/simpleads.helper.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to get property 'settings' of non-object in _simpleads_adgroup_settings() (line 343 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/simpleads.helper.inc).
  • Warning: array_merge(): Expected parameter 1 to be an array, bool given in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 157 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/simpleads.helper.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in include() (line 24 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/templates/simpleads_ajax_call.tpl.php).

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

The city of Marquette is looking at potential cost-saving measures in anticipation of a revenue loss of just over $110,000 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

City clerk Bonnie Basemann updated the city council at its Nov. 10 meeting, noting that hotel/motel tax projections are 50 percent of what was budgeted.

“Instead of $80,000 at the end of the fiscal year, we may have just over $40,000,” she said. “Gaming revenue [from Casino Queen Marquette] is not as bad as I thought it would be. It’s only been running about 20 percent. I think, at the end of the year, we’ll only be about $50,000 short of what we projected.”

Road use tax is also about 10 percent less than budgeted, and there was less water and sewer usage because of COVID-19. Based on historical data, Basemann felt the budgeted revenue was maybe a bit high for water and sewer. 

“The casino was closed for almost 90 days, so that cuts into our revenue,” she explained. “But we do have the solar going now at the sewer plant, so that should help.”

 Basemann has already proposed switching to winter hours at city hall‚ being open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. rather than 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., in order to save money.

Mayor Steve Weipert said, in speaking with public works director Jason Sullivan, that large equipment purchases will be put off a year. Projects have also been limited.

“There’s a couple projects that have been approved already, like paving the evacuation route and the curb up there. There’s the controls for the sewer plant which was $24,000—we already approved that,” Basemann told the council. “But the street committee is recommending we hold off on Brown Street. That was $50,000.”

“We’re just trying to help out in ways we can,” she added. “The big conversation is 50 percent of hotel/motel tax is used on culture and recreation, so it’s those areas we need to take a look at. If you’re happy with the budget the way it is, that’s OK; we don’t have to take any action. But I think it’s the responsible thing to do to have the discussion about it.”

One of the expenses is salary for Alicia Mullarkey, director of the Driftless Area Wetlands Centre. The city discussed splitting Mullarkey’s time between the Wetlands Centre and city hall, working as assistant deputy clerk, to maintain her full-time status and benefits over the winter. A several-months-long furlough was also proposed if there’s not enough work at the Wetlands Centre to keep her busy.

“The Wetlands Centre is closed for the winter, but in the past, Alicia has always been able to do some winter programming. We pay her 30 hours per week in the winter time, basically to maintain and operate a closed facility,” Basemann said. 

Mullarkey said she and the Wetlands Centre board have been doing a lot of saving, and they are willing to take a closer look at their budget for any possible cuts. And while she agreed the facility won’t be as busy as previous winters due to the pandemic, she said there’s still plenty to do, including strategic planning, grant writing and completing projects.

“It wouldn’t bother me to have my hours cut,” Mullarkey said. “They big thing for me is insurance and trying not to lose that during COVID.”

Councilman John Ries said this is a conversation the city needs to have monthly as the pandemic continues. 

“This is a fluid situation,” he said, “and we need to look at all options across the board, not just the Wetlands Centre.”

Another item on the agenda last week could help increase revenue at the Wetlands Centre, though. There will be no camping at Pikes Peak State Park next year due to construction, said Weipert, so the county has approached the city of Marquette about putting in a dump station at the Wetlands Centre.

It wouldn’t take much work, he noted: “It should be close enough to the sewer plant it would run right in.”

Basemann estimates the project would cost less than $3,000, and an engineer likely wouldn’t have to be hired.

Clayton County Conservation would be willing to promote the dump station, and the city could set up a pay kiosk or other system to collect payment.

The council unanimously approved the idea. Basemann said the city will try to put the dump station in by spring.

While they’re at it, Weipert suggested creating five or six gravel pads where someone could park a camper. 

“That would give us an idea if it would ever be feasible to have a campground up there,” he said. “Here we are looking at ways to try and raise money for the Wetlands Centre. This might be one way.”

Rate this article: 
Average: 3.5 (2 votes)