Fox Cities room tax revenues fall sharply as coronavirus slows travel
APPLETON – Household tax rates in Fox Cities fell by more than 75% in the second half of the year and are said to be less than 50% in the third quarter due to the coronavirus epidemic.
With the COVID-19 lawsuit pending in East Wisconsin and beyond, Pam Seidl, director general of the Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau, said it could take four years to get tourists back to 2019.
“That’s what we hear from Tourism Economics, which is a group that educates our guests,” Seidl told The Post-Crescent. “Right now in the United States, they think a complete recovery will take four years.”
Room rents are taxes for users who live in hotels and motels. Taxes within Fox Cities’ tourism are 10% and consists of four categories:
- 3% of the $ 31.5 million Fox Cities Exhibition Center loan in Appleton
- 3% of the $ 30 million Community First Champion Center loan in Grand Chute
- 2.85% of the work of the Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau
- 1.15% of the same towns
So far, seven months after the outbreak, the Fox Cities Exhibition Center and Champion Center have ample reserves to repay debts despite lowering rates.
Appleton Finance CEO Tony Saucerman said two $ 3.3 million savings were set up for the show.
“We think that even if we receive the money we received in the second quarter of 2020, which was a short history of the epidemic, every quarter in the future, we will have enough taxes to collect to pay off debts through 2022,” Saucerman said. “In the meantime, we expect property taxes to return to normal.”
If the stocks run out, Appleton will have to offer promotions to retailers to make loans. This upgrade is reimbursed by the city with multiple future room taxes.
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Its installation is similar to the Champion Center. Grand Chute Chief Financial Officer Julie Wahlen says two $ 3.4 million savings are available to address the shortcomings.
The money “will be enough to repay all debt in the next three years,” Wahlen said. “This assumes that the room tax can remain stable for now and for all time to come.”
If the barns were depleted, Grand Chute would have no problem at all but would be reimbursed with future tax money.
The cost of the epidemic
The revenue earned by visitors to Fox Cities reached $ 511 million in 2019.
This was followed by strong performances in January and February. Then came March with the coronavirus. Governor Tony Evers announced the emergency on March 12 and granted home security on March 25 which banned unnecessary travel and closed public entertainment venues.
The first property tax fell 8.7%, mainly due to poor March.
The effects of the epidemic and domestic security were felt in the second quarter, with local taxes declining 76.2%.
“It’s been a huge blow to this project,” Seidl said.
Third-party property taxes have not yet been received, but Seidl estimates it is down 50% to 60%.
“When the law came into effect in August, we lost some of the games that were supposed to take place,” Seidl said. “The students could not play masks so they ended the incident.”
The third quarter is the largest in Fox Cities ’domestic taxes with EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Mile of Music in Appleton and Green Bay Packers preseason games. Nothing happened this year.
Reduced tax revenue is as prevalent as coronavirus.
For example, in Sheboygan, tax revenue in the first two places fell 44% from $ 670,000 in 2019 to $ 374,000 this year.
The fourth quarter seems daunting
It is unlikely that Fox Cities will experience a quarterly change. The number of hotel accommodations is largely dependent on travel expenses, and many agencies have imposed end-of-year restrictions at the end of the year.
This reduces flights via Appleton International Airport, which reduces the number of pilots staying in hotels.
“Death is a thousand cuts,” Seidl said.
The Fox Cities Market is also driven by major group events such as conventions and athletic events. They too have been affected by the plague.
In March, with supervisors expecting a reduction of six to eight weeks as a result of the epidemic, organizers worked to rectify the situation by the end of the year. As the epidemic has eased and intensified, most cases have been postponed until December.
The Fox Cities Exhibition Center will hold just one event in less than a year: blood transfusions on December 26 that have been identified as necessary.
“There are some things in the January books,” Seidl said. “I think people are just taking it now every month.”
Even vacation trips to Fox Cities are tied to big group events such as small baseball and Broadway shows. The season of Wisconsin Timber Rattlers was abolished, and the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center closed its doors until next year.
“The best places to go to Wisconsin are the rest of the world: Bayfield, Minocqua, Door County,” Seidl said.
Anxiety to move forward
The reduction in room taxes will affect not only the payment of debt, but also the performance of conference and guests. It uses its share of funds to develop the site and support tourism development.
The office has not filled one place but has somehow managed to retain the eight employees without dismissal or dismissal, for financial gain. Workers are working on the record for the events of 2022, 2023 and 2024.
However, before the epidemic hit, the office had planned to provide nearly $ 500,000 in tourism projects by 2020. Now that number has been reduced to $ 225,000.
“When the debt is reduced, it prevents us from supporting the community in things like Loop Lake,” Seidl said.
The Champion Center has been closed for a safe period at home but has also been reopened to a lesser extent, especially for sending local sports teams, to make money.
“His goal is to run the hotel room all night through major sports competitions,” Seidl said. “Obviously the site has not been able to achieve that goal, but it is working.”
Seidl said organizations like Fox Cities PAC and Appleton Downtown Inc. they have been hit hard by the epidemic and need help to alleviate the medical crisis, they can resume their programs to help visitors and residents.
Any loss of software could ruin the life of the community and undermine its ability to attract high-level technology, Seidl said. “It’s just a waste.”
Contact Duke Behnke at 920-993-7176 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @DukeBehnke. Sheboygan Press correspondent Diana Dombrowski contributed to the report.