The Beltrami County Board of Commissioners set the preliminary levy for next year’s budget during their meeting Tuesday evening.
The budget passed 3-1, with one commissioner absent from the meeting.
The levy increase is less than five percent, which is the lowest it’s been set for several years.
Significant budget proposals include a jail discharge planner, which will be covered by a combination of property tax levy, jail revenue and state reimbursement dollars.
County Administrator Kay Mack explained that this position, funded through Health and Human Services, will work with inmates upon their release to set them up for success.
Another jail-related budget proposal include four additional correctional officers, to allow the shift teams to have one person committed to intake.
According to Mack, the traditional and required four-person teams have had to pull off an officer to handle booking a new inmate, which inhibits the team’s ability to complete wellness checks on time, or allow time for correctional officers to take breaks during their 12-hour shifts.
With this budget proposal, each of the four around-the-clock teams will have an additional staff member.
Sheriff Ernie Beitel also briefed the board during the work session on the planned presidential visit this Friday. Commissioner Reed Olson asked if the local government would be reimbursed for the costs for law enforcement overtime and other expenses, but Sheriff Beitel explained that since it’s a federal event, local law enforcement is required to provide security.
During the work session, the board also discussed:
- An update from the Bemidji Library. The Library closed its doors in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but librarian Sherri Brumack said the library opened again in August. The Bemidji library was permitted to be more open than most other libraries due to the role it serves in the community, especially for the homeless.
- Beltrami County Health and Human Services entering a contract with Lutheran Social Services to provide guardianship services. These services are ordered from the court, and Jeffrey Lind informed the board that recently they came into a conflict with the current arrangement. LSS will provide these guardianship services for approximately 40 people.
- AirCorps Aviation and Greater Bemidji requested the county’s sponsorship for an expansion project. The board gave their consensus that they would support the planned expansion of a manufacturing plant for commercial and military airplane parts. A similar sponsorship was granted to Stittsworth Meats.
- Unveiling the three finalists for the new Beltrami County Logo. The county partnered with Bemidji State University’s design program, under the direction of Mitch Blessing. These three logos were selected as finalists, and the board will vote on their favorites by a ranked choice, similar to how county development fund dollars are determined.