Council hears input on a potential hospitality tax to offset Sanford Center losses

The Bemidji City Council held a listening session last night during their work session.

The listening session was designed to gather input on a food and beverage tax to offset the operating deficit of the Sanford Center.

The brief listening session included the reading of a letter from the Bemidji Alliance, read by Bemidji Chamber director Abby Randall, emphasizing that a hospitality, or a food and beverage tax, should be a last resort after assessing the Sanford Center’s operations.

Ward 5 Council Member Nancy Erickson said that the Sanford Center, even during the 2006 feasibility study, was never projected to break even.

Erickson also noted the Sanford Center’s capital needs, such as an update to the technology last installed 10 years ago.

A hospitality tax would need the support of the community, so city representatives could lobby for it at the state capitol.

Unlike a sales tax, a hospitality tax would not need local voters’ approval.

A hospitality tax is projected to decrease the Center’s financial burden on property taxpayers, who currently pay the deficit through levies.

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 all the beats in north-central Minnesota, such as local government, crime, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University.

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