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City of Green Bay anticipates closing $1.6M general fund gap caused by COVID-19

Areas where the city has been able to cut costs include freezing travel expenses, within the parks department and hiring delays.
Published: Sep. 8, 2020 at 10:54 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - We’re learning new information about how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the City of Green Bay’s general fund budget.

The city will experience about a $1.6 million shortfall in revenue, but have found areas to make up the difference.

“At this point we’re very confident based on the projections that we have at this moment, we will be able to overcome our shortfall and come in close to budget for the 2020 general fund,” said Finance Director, Diane Ellenbecker during Tuesday’s finance committee meeting.

City leaders say the losses this year are coming from lost hotel room tax, liquor licenses, citations, park rentals and admission and investment interest.

Areas where the city has been able to cut costs include freezing travel expenses, within the parks department and hiring delays.

The city also received more than one million dollars from the CARES act to offset unbudgeted expenses related to COVID-19.

“The assumption is that all COVID expenses would be covered with that $1.7 million CARES money. We also have the opportunity to draw down some FEMA money,” said Ellenbecker.

Another area where the city is coming up short is Bay Beach. City leaders say the beach lost about $3 million in revenue this year due to opening delays, reduced hours and capacity limits.

Some saved up money will help make up the difference, but the amusement park is looking at about a $1.5 million shortage, impacting projects for next year.

“About $600,000 of that, a little bit less was anticipated extra revenue that was supposed to go to other projects for next season for capital improvement; so because we didn’t make that money it just means we’re not going to be setting that $600,000 dollars aside for projects,” said Dan Ditscheit, parks director.

Bay Beach is self sustaining and money to offset expense shortfalls will come from a reserve account.

At the end of the year, Ditscheit is still anticipating about a $200,000 shortfall for the beach. Projects that could be impacted include the replacement of broken Falling Star Ride.

Action 2 News has previously reported, the city is in the middle of making upgrades to the beach including adding a pier, shoreline walkway. Those expenses are already budgeted for through city bonding.

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