Bemidji City Council to discuss budget, Sanford Center in tonight’s work session

The Bemidji City Council will discuss next year’s budget and the Sanford Center during tonight’s work session.

Last week, the council voted 4-3 to move staff towards terminating their contract with VenuWorks, the management company that oversees the operation of the Sanford Center.

A day later, longtime Ward 5 council member Nancy Erickson resigned.

During tonight’s work session, the council will hear updates to next year’s financial management plan and the next steps for Sanford Center’s management.

VenuWorks’ contract will expire in less than six months, according to the termination clause.

According to Finance Director Ron Eischens, some of next year’s budget has some uncertainties, especially when it comes to the Sanford Center, such as possible COVID impacts.

VenuWorks was eligible to receive PPP dollars during the pandemic, while the city is not able to access that type of pandemic relief.

Another uncertainty is a possible buyout cost for terminating the VenuWorks contract.

At the regular meeting next week, the council is anticipated set the preliminary budget and levy.

After that meeting, the budget and levy can only decrease before the final budget is set in December.

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