Council approves preliminary levy and budget

The Bemidji City Council approved their preliminary levy of $6.517 million, which is a 6.5 percent increase from this last year’s levy.

According to city finance director Ron Eischens, with new construction value added in the last year and the third phase of the orderly annexation with Northern Township, as long as property values remained the same, city taxpayers should not see an increase in their property taxes.

The council also accepted claims submitted by VenuWorks, and the management company of the Sanford Center is reducing their fees by 15 percent, and if there is no BSU hockey, they say they’ll reduce their fees further.

The council also approved a work-in-progress contract with BSU’s lease agreement of the Sanford Center, as it is still unknown if the WCHA will have a hockey season this year.

Other agenda items for the Bemidji City Council:

  • Public hearing on a a resolution related to the Mountain View Meadows housing complex and tax-increment financing district. The housing complex will include a percentage of units, both single-family and multi-family, with income guidelines. Income guidelines would result in the rent price adjusting to be a percentage of the household income. Affordable housing is generally considered to be 30 percent of the household income, including utilities. The city has only had one other TIF district in the last 20 years.
  • CARES Act Relief Fund Allocations. CARES Act dollars can only  be used for reimbursing unbudgeted expenses related to COVID-19. The city received around $1.165 million, and a large share of that is going to payroll expenses, for police, fire and administrative personnel time responding to COVID-19. Another $49,000 will be used to reimburse for PPE and supplies, which leaves a fund balance of almost $374,000.
  • A discussion on calendar parking. During the earlier days of COVID-19, parking ordinances were not enforced. Enforcement typically is stricter when snow is on the ground, to allow more room for snow plowing.
  • Extended the lease for a rail corridor property. FadeMasters barbershop owner Mike Flaherty recently passed away, and owned the building but leased the land from the city. As the Rail Corridor project is still working through the granting process, the council opted to extend the lease for another year.

Featured photo courtesy of Eric Callagan


Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers events and issues in north central Minnesota, which include local government, crime, courts, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University and received her degree in 2018. Larissa, native to the great state of New York, grew up in Bemidji, and enjoys spending her spare time with her family and pet cat. She also loves Star Trek, punk rock music and the theater.


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