Bemidji City Council discusses Visit Bemidji

By: News Director Larissa Donovan

BEMIDJI– The Bemidji City Council discussed potentially dissolving the current Visit Bemidji board and bringing the three paid staff members in house during their meeting Monday.

While the motion to dissolve the board was withdrawn and no vote taken place, the council held a lengthy discussion on the possibility.

Visit Bemidji’s current executive director, Susan Goudge, is retiring at the end of the month, and the two other full-time staff positions, a destination services specialist and a convention sales manager, were hired within the last year.

Ward 5 Council person Nancy Erickson expressed concern about high turnover in the positions, and said that if they were all city employees they could be added to the city’s benefit plan.

Erickson also suggested to have a new advisory committee formed to oversee the activities of Visit Bemidji, but City Attorney Al Felix says that it would no longer be an independent board, as it currently is.

City finance director Ron Eischens said benefit packages for the three additional employees would be approximately $10,000 each.

Visit Bemidji is funded through the city’s 3 percent lodging tax, in place since 1989.

The Visit Bemidji board has 14 members, and a hiring committee comprised of members of that board is currently seeking a replacement for Goudge.

The council plans to have an additional meeting on the topic for further discussion. 

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