The Bemidji City Council held an informational work session for an update on the city’s legal department.
City Attorney Al Felix is expected to retire at the end of September, with Assistant City Attorney Katie Nolting preparing to fill the position.
Nolting discussed the city attorney’s office’s various aspects beyond advising the council.
The City Attorney’s Office has prosecuted city-wide misdemeanor offenses since 2019 and is projected to handle 2,100 cases this year.
When the crossover from county prosecution began, the citywide misdemeanor caseload was about half that number.
The increase is due to a number of causes, such as annexation as well as an increase in crime.
Bemidji’s crime rate, according to Police Chief Mike Mastin, is driven in large part by misdemeanor thefts.
Nolting said in respect to the upcoming changes with Felix’s retirement, the city attorney’s office is well poised for the future with different perspectives from a diverse group within the legal team.
Among legal issues the city attorney’s office will review include the new state law legalizing recreational marijuana edibles, which will likely require some updates to the city’s ordinances.