Sanford Center Work Group Discusses Hospitality Tax
The recently formed Sanford Center Work Group presented some of its findings and held a discussion Monday about how success should be defined at Bemidji’s Sanford Center. We were there and found how talk of a new tax may be the answer to help Bemidji’s Event Center be successful.
In a study done by the Sanford Centers management company VenuWorks, Bemidji’s event center leaves a $24 million economic impact on the City of Bemidji. But to get the most benefit out of the Sanford Center is all about how you define the event centers success.
The Sanford Center Work Group which was created last fall after concerns over staff turnover and questions about event center policies were brought forward. The City of Bemidji budgets annually a $400,000 subsidy as an operational investment that stems from property taxes. That is where the conversation began on a hospitality tax for lodging, as well as a food and beverage tax were brought to the table as a way to offset the use of property taxes.
While one of the reasons for the hospitality tax would be to provide property tax relief, council members discussed gaining support for the tax to fund an event center with a tarnished image due to financial impropriety would be an obstacle.
Bemidji City Manager Nate Mathews says that while they are aware of the negative issues surrounding the event center, the issue that has the most impact is making the event center a success.
To make sure that there is no miscommunication about the hospitality tax, the city will seek input from the community.
While the hospitality and food and beverage tax remains as an option, the city plans to make sure everyone is on board.