Greater Bemidji request included in final budget

The Bemidji City Council will include a $30,000 line item for Greater Bemidji in their final budget for 2020, scheduled to be considered during their council meeting next week.

After an occasionally heated discussion, the council directed staff to consider a more formalized application process for next year’s budgeting.

Council member Nancy Erickson wanted more structure in their request for public dollars.

Other council members, such as Ron Johnson and Mike Beard, felt Greater Bemidji is well worth the annual investment, which has ranged from $20,000 to $30,000 in recent years.

Johnson described how Delta Dental, a business Greater Bemidji actively recruited to the area, will earn the city property tax revenue.

“Just with the Delta Dental building alone, we’ll earn three times what we’re paying Greater Bemidji this year, and that will be forever,” said Johnson. “They justify their existence just with that.”

“I think the bar’s been raised by bringing Delta Dental here,” said Beard. “It may not happen right off the bat, but the entire economy will improve.”

Greater Bemidji declined to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the city last month,  but did reportedly provide an application for the funding, resembling the county’s process for distributing community development dollars from timber revenue.

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