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Tax levy and Sanford Center management on deck for Bemidji City Council

At a work session tonight, Sept. 13, the Bemidji City Council will discuss the preliminary tax levy amount and the future of the Sanford Center's management.

Bemidji City Hall 2020 web art.jpg
Bemidji City Hall.

BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji City Council will meet Monday evening, Sept. 13, to determine the 2022 preliminary tax levy and future of Sanford Center management.

In an early August meeting, the council discussed a potential tax levy increase of $282,000, or 4.3%, for 2022. The amount was based on an expected revenue increase of $516,000 and a rise in expenses by $798,000.

Those expense increases are mostly driven by personnel costs. For example, the budget includes $333,000 for cost of living adjustments.

However, during the meeting, several council members also noted the importance of including Sanford Center maintenance costs. Sanford Center staff provided city officials with an estimate of $1.4 million in capital improvement needs.

If the entire amount was included, the levy increase would be at 26.3%. Not willing to commit to that amount, the council asked city staff to calculate a tax levy increase between 8.5% and 10%.

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For such an increase, the dollar amount would be between $339,000 and $437,000. During the meeting, the council will consider what amount to set for the preliminary tax levy.

Once the council votes on the preliminary tax levy, they are allowed to lower it, but not raise it, before they take their final vote on the matter in December.

RELATED: Bemidji City Council seeks comparative options for Sanford Center review During its meeting Monday, the Bemidji City Council voted down a recommendation to hire the firm Conventions, Sports and Leisure to study the Sanford Center, citing a need for more options from other providers. The council also initiated talks with Northern Township for an annexation agreement and created an advisory committee for the Bemidji Police Department.
The council is also set to discuss the future of management at the Sanford Center. On Sept. 7, the council voted to terminate its contract with the Iowa-based company VenuWorks , which had managed the city-owned event center since October 2010.

The 193,000 square-foot facility is home of BSU's hockey programs and contains an arena with more than 4,000 seats, as well as attached conference space. On an annual basis, the city invests hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover operating losses at the facility.

In 2020, the city invested $450,000 for Sanford Center operations.

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