Bemidji City Council meets today: special work session to discuss VenuWorks, then onto setting the preliminary levy

The Bemidji City Council and VenuWorks may negotiate a new contract during a special work session this afternoon.

According to documents submitted in the city’s packet, VenuWorks would provide the same number of services for operating the Sanford Center, and the new contract would be in effect from Oct. 1 through the end of 2024. Instead of a base management fee, which is around $10,000 a month, the management company would be entitled to an incentive fee.

The incentive fee would be based on how much VenuWorks can limit the city’s annual subsidy to less than $300,000.

Nearly two weeks ago, the Bemidji City Council voted 4-3 to move towards terminating the VenuWorks contract, and last week, VenuWorks CEO Bill Peters approached the council to discuss alternatives to the existing contract.

Bemidji Mayor Jorge Prince noted during a recent meeting that the existing VenuWorks contract did not incentivize efficiency.

Following the special work session, the council is anticipated to set the preliminary budget and levy next year, which may be set at an 8.5 percent increase over last year’s budget.

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