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July 29, 2014

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Group plans drive to retire $1 million debt on Boulder Dam Hotel

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Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun

The historic Boulder Dam Hotel in downtown Boulder City was built in 1933.

Boulder Dam Hotel

The Treasured Times Tearoom is one of the rooms refurbished in the Boulder Dam Hotel under the supervision of manager Roger Shoaff. The tearoom, one of the amenities and sources of revenue at the hotel, offers tea by reservation only. Launch slideshow »

Boulder Dam Hotel

The Boulder City Museum and Historical Association plans to launch a fundraising drive to raise almost $1 million to retire its debt on the Boulder Dam Hotel.

In a strategic plan adopted Wednesday, the association’s board of directors set as its first goal retiring the $950,000 in debt it took on to buy the historic hotel in September 2005 and to renovate the restaurant and lounge last year.

The nonprofit group had to close the hotel for two weeks in July when it fell behind on its mortgage payments and ran out of money to pay employees. The hotel reopened after an anonymous donor gave the association $260,000 to keep it afloat. The closure cost the historical association $41,000 in expenses and lost revenue, Manager Roger Shoaff told the board.

The strategic plan notes that the association would do better to launch a capital campaign to pay off the debt rather than a campaign to set up an endowment for future income.

“Essentially, paying off the debt has a much greater return on our donors’ investments than an endowment would at this time,” the plan says.

If the debt is paid off, that would free up $105,000 per year for other goals, it notes. An endowment of $1 million, on the other hand, would return about $35,000 to $40,000 a year.

“The financial stability that would result from retirement of the debt significantly enhances the BCMHA’s ability to accomplish its mission and vision,” the plan says. “Once the debt is retired, it would be appropriate for the BCMHA to seek endowment funds that would ensure cash flow necessary for permanent financial stability.”

The strategic plan also reaffirms the museum association’s commitment to the Boulder Dam Hotel as the location for the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum, calling it “the BCMHA’s largest, most visible and best known artifact of the Boulder Canyon Project era.”

It sets as another goal to communicate to the community that the Boulder Dam Hotel and its restaurant are not businesses but part of the association’s vision, “and although they do provide some funds for the organization, they cannot cover all of the museum’s debt and operating expenses.”

The association’s fundraising committee has begun looking for a professional fundraiser to direct a capital campaign and has a self-imposed deadline of Oct. 28 to devise a plan for the drive, Chairman Bret Runion said.

In addition, the board will develop an economic development plan by Oct. 28 and plans for exhibits and events as well as membership and development by Jan. 27, board President Darryl Martin said.

The board also created new committees to oversee the restaurant and regular audits, as well as the existing committees to oversee the hotel management, museum and fundraising.

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