Lake Delton Village Council Withdraws Hiawatha Residence Hall Loan Due to COVID-19 Battles | Government and Politics
Village board chairman John Webb said on December 14 that the village forgave the debt to help the dormitory because it had lost so much income this year due to the pandemic. He said it was the village’s only debt with the dormitory.
“This will allow it to operate transparently,” said Webb.
Webb said the loan was supposed to be a five-year note, but was ultimately extended because Hiawatha’s earnings did not warrant early repayment.
During the summer and fall months, Hiawatha Residence Hall operated at less than 20% occupancy compared to 45% in 2019, according to the document. Since the start of the year, the dorm has suffered a 50% loss of income and expects an even greater shortfall until mid-January 2021. This is mainly due to the lack of visas from D-1 student caused by the suspension of the HB-1 program issued by President Donald Trump in May to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
According to the document, around 600 students had already received their visas before the suspension. Normally, over 5,000 J-1 students make up a large portion of the workforce in the Dells region. Labor shortages during the summer and fall months have forced restaurant owners to shorten hours, attraction owners to close parts of their facilities and limit opening hours, as well as hotel owners to limit the number of rooms rented.
Dells companies look to local workers to fill gaps left by absent J-1 workers
The Bank of Wisconsin Dells deferred interest and principal payments on the project’s $ 8 million first mortgage for 12 months in response to the dorm’s financial difficulties, saving Hiawatha $ 650,000.