Council covers ice, art, annexation and libraries

The Bemidji City Council went over many topics, from ice to annexation and to art and libraries.

The council approved a motion to use language requiring annexation, of some kind, to extend city services out of city limits.

The city is preparing to enter into an orderly annexation agreement with Northern Township to extend services to Ruttger’s Birchmont Lodge.

With CSAH 20, or Birchmont Beach Rd. NE, slated for construction in 2024, the city is discussing laying down city water and sewer mains while the road is under construction, with the goal to eventually extend services around Lake Bemidji.

The council approved a revised memorandum of understanding with the Bemidji Community Arena Corporation.

This arrangement would extend the partnership long-term, cost-sharing the salary and benefits of one full-time City employee, as well as a plan to liquidate the city’s assets at the Neilson Reise Arena.

These assets include around $45,000 worth of R-22 refrigerant, a Zamboni and an arena-sized dehumidifier.

Councilmembers Audrey Thayer and Nancy Erickson, as well as Mayor Jorge Prince, will join a city/county task force to address a complex issue at the Kitchigami Regional Library.

Erickson, at a recent county-city joint meeting, discussed a financial issue, with the various county and city levy dollars the library system collects, creating a surplus with no immediately clear solution.

Erickson also disclosed that the library system’s regional director recently resigned.

A proposal from the city’s Public Arts Commission recommended adding art to the city’s water treatment plant near the airport, but the measure was rejected.

The project would have been funded through the city’s utility fund, and the majority of the council expressed that the location was not ideal for a public art piece.

City Engineer Craig Gray, when discussing the effects the drought may have on the utility fund, said water usage is down by about one million gallons a day since the water ban took effect. 

Before the ban, the same amount was on lawn irrigation each day.

Finally, the council held a public hearing on the formation of a police advisory committee.

A small language change was accepted, clarifying the conflicts of interest segment of the proposed charter for the committee, available on the city’s website under the July 6 meeting packet.

No public comment was received during the hearing.

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