St. Croix Boat & Packet Co. Takes Over Event Management at Washington County Historic Courthouse

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Washington County Historic Courthouse (Photo courtesy of Washington County)

St. Croix Boat & Packet Co. will take over event management at the Washington County Historic Courthouse beginning Oct. 1.

Under a contract approved by the Washington County Board on Tuesday, St. Croix Boat & Packet will provide routine event services, such as event set up, take down and client showings through Dec. 31, 2016.

Washington County will continue to staff the public walk-in hours at the Historic Courthouse, according to the contract, and will maintain a “priority rental preference” for all of the county’s scheduled events.

County officials began exploring the public-private partnership for event management at the Historic Courthouse in May 2014. As the Historic Courthouse’s popularity as a wedding venue grew, so did the strain on county staff.

County Park staff members found themselves in the marketing, rental and wedding planning business, Washington County Parks Manager Peter Mott has said about the transition. Event management at the courthouse also resulted in additional building and grounds maintenance.

Currently, the Historic Courthouse has annual expenses of $310,400 a year, according to Washington County records. Rental fees from private events and weddings pay about $145,000 of that cost, while the property tax levy pays $165,400.

Under the new event management system, expenses are expected to be $253,400 a year, with rental fees paying $170,000 of the Historic Courthouse’s expenses, while the property tax levy portion for operations of the venue will be cut to $83,000.

The $57,000 difference in expenses is the result of a change in staffing.

St. Croix Boat & Packet will get a base event management fee of $16,000 a year, according to the contract. If annual revenue is more than $160,000 in a year, the management fee would be equal to 10 percent of gross revenues, not to exceed $20,000 in any year.

In addition to event management, St. Croix Boat & Packet Co. will also do sidewalk snow removal at rates ranging from $15 to $18 per hour.

In February, the county solicited proposals for professional event management services at the Historic Courthouse. The county received and evaluated two proposals before awarding the contract.

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