Compared to fiscal year 2018, the City of Council Bluffs lost $273,028 in hotel and motel taxes during the 4th quarter of the year that runs from April 1st to June 30, due to Missouri River flooding. According to the Iowa Department of Revenue, the city collected $774,818 in hotel - motel taxes in those months while $1,047,846 was collected the year prior. That is the lowest amount of Council Bluffs hotel and motel taxes collected in the 4th quarter since 2011.
Officials say the loss can be attributed to the flooding which caused three months of temporary closures along I-29 from Missouri Valley to St. Joseph, Missouri from March through June. Two rounds of flooding closed sections of that interstate and travelers heading north or south were forced to take alternate routes and that impacted lodging.
“We didn’t realize the full extent of how the flooding affected the city’s travel economy until we saw the revenue report.” Mark Eckman, executive director of the Council Bluffs Convention and Visitors Bureau said. “We expected a decreased number of visitors but not to this extent.”
The City of Council Bluffs increased the hotel and motel tax collections in the summer of 2018 and the winter of 2019 before the flooding and were able to compensate for some of the loss during the 4th quarter. “While it’s disappointing to see a decrease in hotel/motel tax revenue this year, the loss serves as a reminder of how vital Interstate 29 is for travel and tourism and how much visitors contribute to the city’s revenue,” Eckman said.
Council Bluffs was not the only city impacted. The Iowa Department of Revenue reports that eastern Iowa cities along the Mississippi River like Waterloo and Dubuque also lost revenue during the 4th quarter.