With COVID-19 progressing, Manhattan estimates a $3 million to $8 million loss in 2020 sales tax revenue. The first three months of 2020 showed sales tax revenue was strong in Manhattan, however, COVID-19 deterred any upcoming financial growth.
Dennis Marstall, assistant city manager, said the lack of commerce impacts the city immensely.
“We are such a service-based economy in Manhattan,” Marstall said. “We serve the students and military so when we close the restaurants, airports — all of these things — it’s hard.”
Marstall said Manhattan must close certain services due to a lack of sales tax revenue. Summer programs are canceled and the city is looking at other services to cut. This news saddens some Manhattan residents.
“We have already got a lot of community feedback about closing the city pool,” Marstall said. “The local townsfolk want some summer programs for the youth and want to have these activities. It’s hard, it’s a hard decision to tell the community that we just can’t afford that right now.”
Emily Hammond, senior in elementary education, said she spent last summer at the pool and utilized the city summer programs. Hammond worked at a camp and took her campers to the pool, she said, and the kids enjoyed going to the pool and having a fun place to go.
“It’s a fantastic place for kids to play with their friends,” Hammond said. “There are a lot of activities to do there.”
Hammond added the college students who helped with the camps will no longer receive that employment.
“I think that kids are going to miss seeing their friends and a lot of college students like me have lost their job because of that,” Hammond said.
More budget cuts could be in the future if closures due to COVID-19 continue. Marstall said the city relies heavily on revenue from students at Kansas State. If the university chooses not to open there could be more financial problems for Manhattan.
“I think this situation accentuates the impact of K-State and any college town,” Marstall said. “We look forward to having them back.”
Despite the financial struggles the city is facing, Marstall remains optimistic for the future of Manhattan.
“We will be resilient, but that’s not to say it won’t be painful,” Marstall said.