Duluth Businesses May See Rise in Street Light Utility Fees

By KBJR News 1

Duluth Businesses May See Rise in Street Light Utility Fees

January 4, 2011 Updated Jan 4, 2011 at 4:09 PM CDT

It's been a much debated topic that could cause you to see a big change in your monthly bills.

Duluth officials are proposing adjustments to its Street Light Utility Fund to maintain, operate, and improve street lights and signal lights throughout the city.

The biggest emphasis is to make technological improvements to the system to gain energy efficiency.

But this comes with a price tag.

Business owners would pay between $17 dollars and $100 a month depending on the size of the company.

Meanwhile, homeowners would see a 10 cent decrease in their monthly Street Light Utility Fee.

This has upset some business owners, while city officials say homeowners have already paid up.

"We looked at it in a way of just balancing the overall fee across both residential and commercial. The residents have been paying a disproportionate amount of this fee and we thought they deserved a break a slight break," says Duluth Chief Administrative Officer David Montgomery.

"To me, it would be more equitable if we just went across the board and said every property owner is going to get an increase and we are going to double the fee to cover it," says Duluth business owner Randy Larson.

City officials plan to present its restructure plan to the Street Light Utility fee to the city council next Monday.

If passed, it could go into effect by this February.

The city will continually evaluate the fund and as energy efficiency savings are made those savings will then go back into the fund, potentially resulting in a reduction of fees.

Currently, residents and businesses are paying about $3.50 a month on the Street Light Utility Fee.