Bemidji City Council extends deadline in search for a new City Manager; hears report from Public Arts

The Bemidji City Council extended its deadline to find a firm tasked with guiding the hiring process for a new city manager.

During the first regular council meeting of the month, staff was directed to seek proposals from firms that specialize in recruiting and selecting people for positions like these.

After a failed vote to accept the only proposal returned, the council will consider any proposals received again at their next regular meeting on June 5.

Mayor Jorge Prince signaled while the motion was on the floor that he would not support this proposal.

The council heard a report from the Public Arts Commission and a variety of definitions of what is art.

The PAC is running into some disconnects with other agencies and groups when it comes to the installation of public art, which is generally defined as a piece of physical artwork that is viewable and accessible to the public, whether that is private or public property.

City Clerk and Acting City Manager Michelle Miller said that even in creating the Public Arts Commission in 2012, defining art was a problem.

A number of art pieces have been installed without the knowledge or approval of the PAC, and while the pieces aren’t controversial to the commission, there is still a disconnect with the very mission of the PAC, as explained by member Kristi Miller.

The council liaison for the PAC Emelie Rivera cited a study that showed the millions of dollars of economic impact public art provides communities like Bemidji, and that consistency is key to keeping up the work of the Public Arts Commission.

The Public Arts Commission has a few vacancies for both in-city residents and out-of-city local people, information on how to apply is on the City of Bemidji’s website.

In their meeting Monday the council also:

  • Opted to use a free facilitator from the League of Minnesota Cities for their upcoming code of conduct work session next month;
  • Approved change orders for the Bemidji Day Center (pulled from consent for additional discussion);
  • Approved a construction services agreement to extend sewer in a cost-share agreement with Beltrami County for their project on Irvine that will include a roundabout on Anne Street;
  • Approved the special event permits for the Bemidji Jaycees 79th Annual Water Carnival (pulled from consent for additional discussion);*
  • Approved equipment upgrades at the Sanford Center using the city’s Capital Improvement Sanford Center fund (pulled from consent for additional discussion).

*The author of this article is a board member of the Bemidji Jaycees and the Chair of this year’s Water Carnival

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