A large deficit in the highway budget is forcing Beltrami County to consider new sources of revenue to cover its costs. County Administrator Kay Mack told the Board of Commissioners last night that the county faces approximately $80 million in repair costs on over 400 miles of highway.
Mack recommends to the board that the county increase the sales tax by one-half% as the best means for addressing the long term costs of highway repairs. The alternative to increasing the sales tax would be an increase in the property tax levy by nearly 12%.
If the county does go forward with the sales tax increase, Mack says that the county would do away with the wheelage tax passed last year that brings in about $350,000.
Public meetings on the issue are tentatively set to be held at the Roosevelt Community Center on November 18, the Blackduck Senior Center on November 20, and the Grant Valley Town Hall on December 2. A public hearing is scheduled for December 3 at the County Administration Building in Bemidji. Those locations and dates are subject to change.