Bemidji City Council begins the 2023 budget process

The Bemidji City Council held its first discussion of next year’s budget during their work session Monday.

The meeting was led by mayor pro tem Ron Johnson while Mayor Jorge Prince participated remotely.

City Finance Director Ron Eischens presented a number of various asks, noting that the”funding requests exceed the funding.”

The city operates a roughly $14 million budget and staff is recommending a 4.7 percent net levy increase.

A portion of the budget adjustments can be blamed on inflation, with fuel costs a large driver in predicted budget increases.

The Bemidji Police Department and Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office are considering splitting the cost of an IT specialist that would handle record management as well as dash and body cam footage.

The Bemidji Fire Department is requesting full-staffing and eventually move to qualify for its own Fire District, which would in turn become its own taxing authority.

Full staffing would need an additional seven full-time firefighters, to accommodate the standard four career firefighters per shift for safe operations.

No formal action was taken during Monday’s meeting, with further discussion anticipated at the council’s budget prioritizing session at the end of June.

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