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.