Since the announcement last week that Isle of Capri Casino in Boonville has furloughed 350 employees, Boonville Administrator Kate Fjell is detaling how much of an impact that will have on the city budget.
For each month Isle of Capri is closed the city stands to lose $240,000.
It is not certain when Isle of Capri Casino will open its doors again. The closure is expected to be temporary, though.
The city received the Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification Act notice April 7 from the state. The positive news about this is it is a furlough rather than a layoff, Fjell said.
“Those [employees] will get to come back and have their jobs back once the situation changes,” she said.
The city uses the gaming funds for capital improvements such as purchasing police cars, dump trucks, loaders, excavators and parks projects. Money also is used for street improvement projects.
“Depending on the [length of the] closure, we are going to have to make some decisions about what capital projects we will be able to do this year and which ones we won’t,” Fjell said.
The city budget for capital improvements includes $2.9 million from Isle of Capri. For every month that the city doesn’t receive money from the casino, it’s $240,000 less than they had planned for, Fjell said.
Another significant portion of gaming revenue helps pays off city bonds.
“I don’t want to say we are in dire straits because that is not my intention, but obviously every month you go without [the gaming revenue] some decisions need to be made,” Fjell said.
Gov. Mike Parson ordered a shut down of all Missouri casinos March 17 due to COVID-19. Isle of Capri had paid its employees through March 30, but when the closure was extended to April 24, that triggered the furlough, Fjell said.
“[Reopening] depends on what [things] look like at the end of the month,” she said. “There may be some situations where things may loosen up or open. I’m sure [Isle of Capri] will be eager to open as soon as it [can].”
Until then, employees for Isle of Capri Casino can file for unemployment or look for other services such as at the Food Bank or therapy services.
Social service agencies in town certainly are aware of the situation and trying to be available and help those in need, Fjell said.
“I know some of our restaurants have done free meals, so hopefully some people have been able to take advantage of that,” she said. “At the city, we are doing a few things across the board.”
The city has stopped water service turn-offs due to nonpayment for all residents. Fjell expects Isle of Capri employees may be able to receive temporary employment elsewhere.
“Of course they would also qualify for unemployment at this point and time, too,“ she said.
Local, state and federal agencies are creating some safety nets for this pretty unprecedented and unexpected situation, Fjell said.
“We’re doing what we can and I think everybody is doing what they can,” Fjell said.
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