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City council discusses financial impact of COVID-19 on Beatrice

City council discusses financial impact of COVID-19 on Beatrice

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The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Beatrice was discussed during an online city council meeting Monday evening. City administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer said budgets are similar to last year, at least through the month of March.

At roughly halfway through the fiscal year, Tempelmeyer said about 45% of property taxes have been collected. At this point in 2019, Tempelmeyer said roughly 43% had been collected. He said motor vehicle tax is down roughly $2,000 as compared to last year, but called the reduction minimal.

Sales tax collection was at $291,000 in March, down roughly $11,000 as compared to last year. Tempelmeyer said as a whole, tax collection is only down roughly 3%.

“Those don’t appear to be doing too bad,” Tempelmeyer said.

Construction for the new Beatrice Fire and Rescue station started last week, and Tempelmeyer said roughly $1.1 million has been collected for the project between April of 2019 and March 2020.

“We would obviously have to escrow the money until you had enough to make a bond payment, then we would call in certain bonds. You would probably call in the later years, because they have higher interest rates. When it became callable, which I think is after about five years, you would start to call those particular bond payments in and use the extra funds to pay those off,” Tempelmeyer said.

Ambulance billings are up roughly $104,000 this year, but Tempelmeyer said in April there was about a $16,000 decrease.

“We had not as many people riding in the ambulance. Obviously there weren’t as many transfers going out of the hospital. People kind of just hunkered down and stayed home a little more,” Tempelmeyer said.

Tempelmeyer said lodging tax and keno revenue was down in April roughly $1,600 and $6,000, respectively, but that they are collectively up as compared to last year.

“Good news is when you look at lodging tax and keno funds, the types of projects you have budgeted next year for those funds are improvements at Hannibal Park, at the Chief Standing Bear trailhead, new ball fields at the YMCA…So in the event they fell off and you couldn’t afford them, you’re not looking to have to cut services, you’re not looking to have to cut personnel, those types of things,” Tempelmeyer said.

The largest decrease was for utilities, water and wastewater for April, at about $20,000 less than April of 2019. Tempelmeyer said that could be due to the mild winter, and noted that the monthly bill for those services is roughly $1.25 million.

“So all in all when you kind of look at things, at least as far as the city and utility sides go, our finances are looking good at this point,” Tempelmeyer said. “We don’t see any big roadblocks right now, but obviously next month we’ll get some more information in and see where that number puts us, as well.”

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