Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

By Jake Urban
Bemidji Pioneer 

Beltrami County: Enbridge pipeline helps local economy


The Beltrami County Board met Tuesday night to discuss and take action on a small agenda.

At the work session held before the meeting, Assessor Joe Sherik presented a review of the property tax system and the effects of new construction in Beltrami County.

According to Sherik, there has been a total of $84 million in new construction projects in 2011. Of this, $50 million was due to the works of the Enbridge pipeline project and $34 million was a result of new real estate construction.

Due to the total $84 million in new construction, there is a possibility of generating more than $700,000 in tax revenue.

The county would be able to attain this revenue through property taxes, making it possible to garner this new revenue without making taxpayers pay more than they currently are.

Of that $700,000 in possible tax revenue, $500,000 would be a direct result of the pipeline project by Enbridge Energy.

“The pipeline has helped the local economy,” Sherik said.

But the $34 million in the real estate sector proves that the economy is nowhere near 100 percent.

“The economy is still down,” Sherik said.

New Commissioner

While the Beltrami County Board meeting commenced with its usual Pledge of Allegiance, instead of continuing on immediately to general comments, a moment of silence was held in honor of the late Commission Jim Heltzer.

“Being with one another and not being with one another is perhaps the only way we have to measure time, whether as commissioners, colleagues or as members of the public we serve, and of which we are a part,” said Chairman Joe Vene in his opening remarks to honor Heltzer, following the moment of silence. “I hope we will continue to build bridges between people and communities, that we be strong in the advancement of democratic values and human rights, that we enhace ties between communities, state and nations, that we continue to work to improve the human conditions, even as we work to erode the imperfections inherent in our human nature.”

Heltzer died July 21 after a prolonged battle with mantle cell lymphoma, leaving his seat as the District 3 Commissioner open.

Because the vacancy occurred more than a year before Commissioner Heltzer’s term ended, statute requires that the vacancy be filled by through a special election.

After discussing and reviewing all options for when to hold the special election, the board decided to hold the election on Nov. 8, 2011.

The board chose this date because it is in conjunction with a referendum vote the Bemidji School District is planning that same day.

By piggy-backing this vote, the county saves the expenses of holding a separate special election.

Because of Heltzer’s death, the vice-chair seat was also left vacant.

After a brief vote, Quentin Fairbanks was elected as the future successor to Chairman Joe Vene.


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