Belle of Louisville Riverboats could need millions in funding from Metro Government

Belle of Louisville Riverboats is seeking emergency funding from Louisville Metro Government to balance its budget for the current fiscal year, and its CEO said they could need millions in additional funds through 2026 to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.Krista Snider told Louisville Metro Council’s budget committee this week that it needs emergency funding of about $725,000 to balance this year’s budget and will likely need a little more than $4 million through FY 2026 for operational subsidies and capital drydock projects for both the Belle of Louisville and the Mary M. Miller.”This is not just a one-time request,” Snider said by phone Friday.Belle of Louisville Riverboats has a typical budget between $2 million and $3 million annually and regularly receives annual subsidies of about $500,000 from Louisville Metro. The $725,000 would be in addition to the regular allocation this year, Snider said.Snider told the budget committee that it could need a total of $975,000 from the city in FY22 but the subsidy should fall most years under current projections as operations normalize.The money is needed from Louisville Metro, she said, because the city owns the boats and the Belle is not eligible for any COVID-19 federal stimulus aid after an exhaustive analysis of each stimulus package.“Because the Belle is who she is, and she’s a part of Metro Government, we need that assistance through them,” she said.In a written presentation submitted to the committee, Belle of Louisville Riverboats said it saw an 88% decrease in passengers, an 84% decline in revenue and 77% decrease in the number of cruises from the 2019 to 2020 seasons, translating to fewer than 10,000 passengers for 2020. Those numbers align with the larger passenger vessel industry, which saw drop-offs in business between 80% and 90% because of the pandemic.Belle of Louisville Riverboats implemented furloughs and installed a spending freeze on all non-essential expenses to help offset costs, and Snider said Friday that the agency will also pursue other financial mechanisms, including a membership program and a fundraising program to seek out sponsorships and grants.Click here to read more about the funding issues from Louisville Business First.

Belle of Louisville Riverboats is seeking emergency funding from Louisville Metro Government to balance its budget for the current fiscal year, and its CEO said they could need millions in additional funds through 2026 to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Krista Snider told Louisville Metro Council’s budget committee this week that it needs emergency funding of about $725,000 to balance this year’s budget and will likely need a little more than $4 million through FY 2026 for operational subsidies and capital drydock projects for both the Belle of Louisville and the Mary M. Miller.

“This is not just a one-time request,” Snider said by phone Friday.

Belle of Louisville Riverboats has a typical budget between $2 million and $3 million annually and regularly receives annual subsidies of about $500,000 from Louisville Metro. The $725,000 would be in addition to the regular allocation this year, Snider said.

Snider told the budget committee that it could need a total of $975,000 from the city in FY22 but the subsidy should fall most years under current projections as operations normalize.

The money is needed from Louisville Metro, she said, because the city owns the boats and the Belle is not eligible for any COVID-19 federal stimulus aid after an exhaustive analysis of each stimulus package.

“Because the Belle is who she is, and she’s a part of Metro Government, we need that assistance through them,” she said.

In a written presentation submitted to the committee, Belle of Louisville Riverboats said it saw an 88% decrease in passengers, an 84% decline in revenue and 77% decrease in the number of cruises from the 2019 to 2020 seasons, translating to fewer than 10,000 passengers for 2020. Those numbers align with the larger passenger vessel industry, which saw drop-offs in business between 80% and 90% because of the pandemic.

Belle of Louisville Riverboats implemented furloughs and installed a spending freeze on all non-essential expenses to help offset costs, and Snider said Friday that the agency will also pursue other financial mechanisms, including a membership program and a fundraising program to seek out sponsorships and grants.

Click here to read more about the funding issues from Louisville Business First.