Matthew Liedke is the city, county and state government reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He also covers business, politics and financial news.
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BEMIDJI—A new report on year-end finances for 2017 from Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto backs up findings released earlier this year by Bemidji officials. The Minnesota City Finances Report, compiled to summarize the operations of 846 cities, was released Tuesday, with a breakdown of data from communities large and small. Revenues, expenses, and distribution of dollars were given an analysis, and much of it lined up with earlier findings.
BEMIDJI—The Beltrami County Board of Commissioners have set a public hearing for Jan. 22 on an ordinance raising the legal tobacco-buying age to 21. During its meeting Tuesday, the board scheduled a second public hearing for 5:15 p.m. on Jan. 22 in the commission board room at the county building. A first public hearing on "Tobacco 21" took place last week, on Dec. 11, and featured many proponents speaking in favor of the new rules.
BEMIDJI -- Despite projections to bring in more revenue, the Sanford Center still is expected to see a higher operating shortfall in 2019 than it had for this year. At its meeting Monday, the Bemidji City Council reviewed a business and marketing plan from VenuWorks, the managing company contracted to operate the Sanford Center, which included the 2019 budget.
BEMIDJI—With future expenses and a potential new city staff position weighing on the decision, the Bemidji City Council approved both the tax levy and budget for 2019. The 2019 property tax levy comes to $5,867,794, an increase of $115,044, or 2 percent, from 2018. However, when factoring in the value of new construction and other property value changes, the effective tax increase is 1.6 percent, officials said.
BEMIDJI—Additional complaints of campaign finance law violations have been made against local candidates for mayor and City Council. A pair of prehearing conferences related to the alleged violations in the 2018 Bemidji city elections were held Monday, with another scheduled for Tuesday. Two complaints, filed by Bemidji resident Ara Gallo on Nov. 19, were presented to judges from the state Office of Administrative Hearing on Monday morning.
Five times. That's how many Academy Award ceremonies have been held without a host. While it's not unprecedented, though, it hasn't happened in quite a while. The most recent example is the 1989 ceremony. Before then? The years 1938 and 1969-1971. Another ceremony without a host might be added to the history books, though, with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences considering not having one as of Thursday night.
BEMIDJI—While the Bemidji City Council and many municipal departments take a meeting hiatus over the holidays, construction is scheduled to make City Hall more ADA friendly. More specifically, crews will work to build a new ramp and provide more space on the dais where the City Council desk is located in council chambers. According to Bemidji City Manager Nate Mathews, the move will help make the council chambers more accessible for At Large City Councilor-elect Jim Thompson, who uses a wheelchair.
BEMIDJI—The Bemidji City Council authorized staff Thursday to begin meeting capital improvement needs at the Sanford Center for 2019. The work session was a follow-up to a request the city made to VenuWorks, the management company contracted to operate the city-owned facility, for a complete report on capital needs at the Sanford Center, including those required immediately and years in the future. In response, VenuWorks drafted a capital improvements request with improvements costing $1.5 million.
BEMIDJI—Owners of Ruttger's Birchmont Lodge and the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board on Wednesday resolved a months-long issue about upgrades to the longtime vacation spot. Mark and Karrie Nelson, who purchased Ruttger's in February, went before the board at its monthly meeting Wednesday to discuss their after-the-fact variance request, which would allow construction of a roof pitch increase. The variance is required as the property operates commercially and is located in a suburban residential zoning district, meaning it's non-conforming.
BEMIDJI—The city-owned Sanford Center is nearing a decade in operation and several replacement and upgrade needs are reportedly right around the corner. On Thursday, the Bemidji City Council will hear a presentation from city staff and Sanford Center Executive Director Jeff Kossow on what those needs look like in 2019 and beyond. "A few months ago we asked VenuWorks to provide a layout of the capital needs of the facility many years out, going ahead 50 years, as well as a short-term look, with some immediate needs," City Manager Nate Mathews said.