HEARTLAND FLOOD: High water soaked Council Bluffs travel revenues

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) -- The spring flooding has taken yet another bite out of Council Bluffs. The Convention and Visitors Bureau says the city lost $273,028 in hotel/motel taxes during the flooding compared to receipts from the same time period in 2018.

The math covers the period from April 1 through June 30 during which Missouri River flooding had savaged the landscape.

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 before. This is the lowest amount of Council Bluffs hotel/motel taxes collected in the fourth quarter since 2011.

The flooding caused three months of temporary closures along I-29 from Missouri Valley, Iowa to St. Joseph, Missouri from mid-March to mid-June. While the interstate was fully reopened on May 18 from the March flooding, a second round of flooding at the end of the month closed it once more until June 18. While stretches of the interstate were open around Council Bluffs, many travelers coming from the north or south were unable to easily travel to the area leading to the loss in hotel/motel stays.

“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.”

Council Bluffs was not the only river city affected. The Iowa Department of Revenue report shows that eastern Iowa cities along the Mississippi River, also flooded, lost revenue as well during the fourth quarter compared to 2018. Davenport lost $93,269 in hotel/motel taxes that quarter compared to fiscal year 2018.

Increased tax collections in Council Bluffs last summer and winter helped to slightly ease the damage but for the full fiscal year the city lost $257,959 compared to fiscal 2018.