The Bemidji City Council had their first lengthy discussion on next year’s budget and subsequent levy.
Further discussion will take place between now and when the preliminary levy is set in September, including a closed meeting to negotiate labor contracts.
The Sanford Center Capital Improvement Plan, first introduced in 2019, anticipated a need for $750,000 a year in capital improvement costs on the 11-year-old building.
The CIP budget request this year was $1.4 million because no dollars were levied for it during the last budget cycle.
City Finance Director Ron Eischens said over the last 20 years, the average levy increase was around eight percent.
Staffers were instructed to explore $180-200,000 for the Sanford Center CIP and a levy increase of between 8.5 and 10%.
During the last part of the meeting, Mayor Jorge Prince discussed an initiative of using a percentage of liquor profits to programs that address alcoholism.
Councilmember Emelie Rivera announced that the city was able to obtain a grant on behalf of the Wolfe, the full $600,000 for a day center for chronic inebriates.
The Wolfe currently provides overnight shelter to chronic inebriates during the winter months.