KML’s financial future cloudy

EAGLE RIVER — The future of the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge is looking bleak, because the facility cannot earn a profit and the county can no longer finance its operation.

“At the end of this year, we will have $920,923 in our fund balance. That’s our savings account,” Don Piche, board member said at Tuesday’s KML board meeting. Approximately $32,000 has already been approved for a new police vehicle, added to another $30,000 for lighting on the main floor of the court house, plus and additional $30,000 to complete the computerization of the county’s records. An additional $25,000 for IT improvements, coupled with $8,000 for improvements to the evidence locker at the county jail, and $140,000 to be placed in the general fund. These numbers do not include the $20,000 the county board of commissioners transferred to the KML account at the meeting.

“You subtract that down at the end of the year, you have $655,923 in our fund balance,” Piche said. “This coming year, we’re going to have a loss of about $120,000 in revenue, due to, I would assume, conservancies. We need, in our fund balance, $200,000-400,000 in reserve.”

Piche said the county is at the tipping point where it cannot afford to continue financing the mountain lodge, while the lodge loses money.

“We’re running out of money. It would be nice to have the million dollars that was spent up there over the last 10 years, but that’s gone. And these are just things that we approved, and we know what it’s going to cost. Who knows what’s going to come up through the rest of the year? So, this is something to think about. This is our savings account.”

Del Rajala, board member, said there are risks the county simply cannot take.

“We cannot even venture the thought of losing money, and then trying to figure out what essential services we’re going to take away, or who we’re going to lay off. That’ll not happen,” Rajala said. “So (regardless) of what happens to the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, if we start dipping down to where we’re going hit that point, the answer has got to be ‘no.'” Rajala said.