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Bemidji City Council approves new position

The city of Bemidji will immediately begin advertising for a community development director following a unanimous council decision on Monday authorizing the new position.

City Manager John Chattin said the city hopes the successful candidate will begin work in Bemidji by May. Applications for the position will be due by March 4.

"We've been talking about this for a long time," Chattin said.

The City Council has long voiced support for the position, but an opportunity for its creation emerged last year when assistant city planner Rita Albrecht resigned to take a position with the Headwaters Regional Development Commission.

The community development director would be responsible for providing professional planning and development services to the city. He or she would also be charged with working with the JPB to coordinate community development projects and maintain communication between the JPB and city of Bemidji.

The salary for the position will be in the range of $57,696 and $72,120.

The city had budgeted all funding for the position except for, at most, $10,000, Chattin said. Additional funding, if needed, could come from future rent paid to the city by the JPB.

Councilor Nancy Erickson said she compared the proposed job description with the responsibilities assigned to City Planner Curt Oakes.

"They certainly do intertwine," she said, noting that both positions state they will assist in overseeing the Joint Paul Bunyan Transit system.

Chattin said there will not be many task-oriented similarities, although he acknowledged that there may seem to be some oversight overlaps.

The community development director will not do planning exercises, like those Oakes does in preparation for a new business project or proposed expansion.

Rather, the community development director will think more long-term, such as how to fund a development initiative and how to move it forward, he explained.

"This position also keeps tracks of grants, applies for grants," Chattin said.