Liquor stores see an increase in sales, city reviews 2019 finances

The Bemidji City Council approved a fund designation for its general fund after a presentation on 2019 finances Monday evening. The fund designation is a routine procedure to ensure there is at least a half year’s worth of cash to pay off the city’s expenses.

City Finance Director Ron Eischens reported that expenses were lower than expected and revenues were higher than expected, by less than a percentage point for either category.

For debt, the city has about $65 million out in bonds, with $46 million tied to the Sanford Center.

The South Shore bonds, which are separate from the Sanford Center debt, has a balance of $1.6 million, which will be paid of in 2023.

Eischens anticipates the sales tax levy may need to continue until 2029 to pay those South Shore bonds off, because the timing of land sales hasn’t met the debt service requirement on those bonds.

The city’s liquor stores have seen an increase in sales, and First City Liquor ranked 13th on the state’s top liquor stores, and Eischens anticipates that ranking to move up a few slots.

The council will hear more finance reports in early summer, which may include projections on how the city’s coffers will be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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