Decreasing food support nationally, increasing tax locally
BEMIDJI -- We’re running out of propane to heat our homes, the MNsure medical assistance enrollment option is backfiring and now the federal government has decided to cut food funding.
As of Feb. 1, approximately 200 people in Beltrami County lost their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
Will Haubrich, Beltrami County Health and Human Services Economic Assistance Division Director explained a waiver that had been in place has been removed which affects Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents’ (ABAWD) ability to receive benefits.
“This waiver, what it did under the SNAP program, is it said that they did not have to work alongside the employment services providers in attempt to find employment,” Haubrich said.ABAWD’s are generally people between the ages of 18 and 50-years-old who have no permanent disability. With the economy not rebounding as quickly, some people still have not found employment.“Looking forward, it does not look like that funding will be followed into the next quarter,” Haubrich said.
Sales tax increaseNo fooling, as of April 1, the county’s new half-cent sales tax will be implemented. Beltrami County Administrator Kay Mack said during Tuesday’s work session the tax was passed by the county and announced in the newspaper and on the radio, but some people didn’t notice the change until they received a letter from the department of revenue.“The sales tax is going to be effective April 1,” Mack said. “Some businesses saw that as a surprise.”The Department of Revenue will charge Beltrami County a 1.17 percent administrative fee, which Mack said is a conservative amount.Commissioner Jim Lucachick clarified the tax will be imposed on sales made in Beltrami County. For instance, if a person from Hubbard County makes a purchase from Bemidji Steel, they will pay the half-cent tax. Mack said, however, if a delivery is made outside of Beltrami County, the tax will not apply.“It’s where your boots are on the ground when you hold the item,” Lucachick said.Although the media has been helpful in distributing information for the county, during the regular board meeting Commissioner Joe Vene added a resolution of support to the consent agenda to support legislation that would allow county websites to publish public notices. Vene noted Beltrami County’s newsletter could also be an alternative to paying to publish public notices in a local newspaper.“This would be a way for us to save money,” Vene said. Commissioner Lucachick agreed, saying it sounded like a “no brainer.”Before the meeting adjourned Vene reiterated there is a hotline for Minnesota residents to call who are in danger of running out of heating fuel. People in greater Minnesota can call 1-800-657-3504. Metro residents should call 651-297-1304.Beltrami County Health and Human Services Director Becky Secore provided commissioners with the phone number during the commissioners work session preceding the board meeting.