The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Big steam bills, lost Paramount revenue prompt request for $200,000 more in hotel/motel money for U.S. Cellular Center

In City Hall on April 14, 2009 at 4:18 pm

High steam costs and lost revenue because of the 2008 flood are prompting the manager of the U.S. Cellular Center and Paramount Theatre to ask City Hall for $200,000 in leftover hotel/motel tax revenue to help pay the bills.

In a memo to the City Council, Scott Schoenike, executive director for VenuWorks of Cedar Rapids, reports that steam costs for the U.S. Cellular Center operation have more than tripled during the winter despite his efforts to keep temperatures down in the arena when it was not in use.

For the month of February alone, the center’s steam bill was $52,593, up from $14,000 from the February before, Schoenike reports.

There are many similar refrains from customers small and big – including the Quaker Oats and Cargill plants near downtown – that had depended in years past on cheap steam from Alliant Energy’s now-flood-wrecked Sixth Street Generating Plant.

In addition, Schoenike tells the City Council that his operation is facing budget pressures because the Paramount Theatre is out of commission and not bringing in revenue because of the flood.

Schoenike reports that he has cut staff by 25 percent and made other cuts that in total have axed $600,000 in costs from the operating budget. Even so, the operation needs the $200,000 in extra hotel/motel revenue, he says.

The City Council is expected to approve the request on Wednesday evening.

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  1. I’d suggest we tell them the bank is closed. Many places need that money. How about getting our small businesses back on their feet. Have you noticed how many have actually closed? How about getting the Veterans’ Memorial back open? There was 10 million given in insurance for that and guess what…IT’S GONE and the veterans never saw a dime of it. Nice job Cr counsel. You’ve managed to fail them AGAIN!

  2. Sorry I must correct Gus; it is my understanding the amount of insurance collected was only $ 2 million, not $ 10 million. The question I would like asked is why is there a $ 50,000 a month steam bill on the Paramount when there is a $ 200,000 a month ($ 1.26 million six month total) heating contract in place for the Paramount? A contract thru a firm recommended by John Levy, called BELFOR that is supposed to be providing temp climate control to facilities like the Library, Public Works, Veterans Memorial & the Paramount. I wonder what the steam bill is for Veterans Memorial and these other facilities on the temp heating system compared to the Paramount?

  3. Sorry for my error – Upon re-reading the article I take it the steam bill is on the US Cellular Center, not the Paramount.

  4. Yes, the bank is closed. The US Cellular Center does not deserve our tax dollars (revenue makes it sound like it’s earned)to offset their heat bill. I suggest they borrow the money from a bank, the taxpayer dollars should not be used to subsidyze a for profit business’s extra expenses.

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