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Ordinance Number 51 Adopted: Local Sales and Use Tax

Bemidji, MN - The Beltrami County Board of Commissioners held a public hearing regarding Ordinance 51, Enacting a Local Sales and Use Tax on March 19, 2024. With no public input received, the Board unanimously approved the ordinance imposing a five-eighths of one percent (0.625%) Local Sales and Use Tax to fund the construction of the replacement Beltrami County Jail.

Beltrami County voters overwhelmingly approved the local sales tax in a referendum vote on November 7, 2023 following legislative approval to pursue a local sales tax. The local sales tax is scheduled to be effective July 1, 2024. The local sales tax option will reduce the financial impact to property taxpayers in Beltrami County as it is estimated that approximately half of the sales tax collected will be from non-residents.

Tom Barry, Beltrami County Administrator, said, “Several years ago, it became apparent that Beltrami County was in need of a new jail. It is the single largest and most expensive project the County has undertaken. The Board was intentional through their efforts and sought input from the voters on how to fund the project and it was resounding that the sales tax was the preferred option.”

The new jail will be built on the north side of the Bemidji Industrial Park, meeting the state statute requirement the county jail be located within the county seat. The current facility’s construction impedes staff and inmate safety due to the number of blind spots and requires more staff to operate. The new facility will enhance safety for all and provide greater programming opportunities in the jail including programming dedicated to reducing recidivism.

Beltrami County Sheriff Jason Riggs said, “This is a milestone for this project, it has been years in the making.” The Minnesota Department of Corrections identified several deficiencies in the current Beltrami County Jail, ordering a reduced population. This resulted in significant out of county housing of inmates, a cost estimated at $1.3 million to taxpayers in 2023. Riggs further said, “The new facility is being designed to meet the current and forecast needs of the County. The new facility will have significant cost savings, but more importantly provide a safer environment for our staff and inmates.”

The adoption of Ordinance No. 51 also establishes what goods and services will be taxed. Essential and family staples such as food and clothing will not be taxed. In addition to funding new construction, the local sales tax will also be used to fund necessary modifications to the existing jail and County Courthouse to accommodate operational changes. The full ordinance is available for review on the Beltrami County Website. Groundbreaking for the new jail is expected later in 2024.


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