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Bemidji takes early look at 2014 budget

BEMIDJI — The Bemidji City Council gave some direction to city staff on next year’s budget during a work session Monday night.

Ron Eischens, city finance director, laid out the status of the general fund, which uses property taxes and state funds to pay for essential city services such as fire protection, police and streets.

Legislative action will mean about $305,000 more in Local Government Aid next year, Eischens said, as well as a $176,000 savings on a state sales tax exemption. He noted, however, that about only half of those savings will have a general fund impact.

But the Legislature also imposed a one-year levy limit for cities, meaning the Bemidji’s property tax levy can’t be more than the $4.1 million it was set at this year.  

Although the property tax levy can’t be raised, an additional source of revenue is the gas and electric franchise fees. But Eischens said staff is not recommending increasing those fees.

Although no formal vote was taken, the council expressed support for adding an additional library position. The costs of that position would be shared between Beltrami County and the city of Bemidji.

Bemidji Police Chief Mike Mastin said Monday that a grant funding a full-time police officer position to investigate auto theft crimes was reapproved. It was set to expire June 30.

But the grant only funds up to $50,000 of the $63,000 the position costs, he said. 

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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