Duluth for-profit casino proposed to fund street improvement projects

By KBJR News 1

June 24, 2014 Updated Jun 25, 2014 at 10:46 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- After the Duluth city council voted to implement the street maintenance fee Monday night, ideas for other funding sources for streets have been brought to the table.

"We have an aging infrastructure that we never had the political will or set-aside the money to deal with," said Duluth city councilor Howie Hanson.

... an on-going problem that has city leaders searching for a solution.

"It's done somewhere. I know it's done in North Dakota," said Hanson.

Hanson is talking about opening a for-profit casino at the DECC in Duluth.

"Well there's going to be a strong political lobby against it, ya know that," he said.

Hanson says he's asked the city attorney to write a letter to the Minnesota legislature for approval of the for-profit casino.

He says those profits could be used to pay for street improvements.

"The people of Duluth cannot afford any longer to be feed in order to pay for these infrastructural improvements," said Hanson.

Hanson says the proposal is not a slam on the Fond-du-Luth casino.

"If they feel like it's a contract that they think was wrongfully written, I respect that. But as a, at the same time, as a city we've got to do what we've got to do."

However, other city councilors are a bit more skeptical.

"In the state right now we, our Indian tribes have that right to have the casinos and we'd sure have to look at a whole lot of things to, going forward to see if that would work," said Duluth city councilor Linda Krug.

Krug says often times casinos come with a bad reputation.

"There's lots of research that says that really casinos prey on people who really can't afford it. And so you want to take a look, take a look at that," she said.

City councilor Sharla Gardner says she isn't in support of the proposal and believes the city should focus on rebuilding the relationship with the Fond du Lac band.

"In the past the relationship between Duluthians and the band was a very good one and I would like to see us move back to that, or actually move forward and settle our differences," said Gardner.

But they all agree on one thing... something must be done to fund street improvement projects.

If not, Hanson says...

"We're leaving this huge, huge burden on our children and grandchildren."

As the search for a solution to an ongoing problem continues...

Once a for-profit casino proposal is drafted it will have to go before the city council and through the state legislature before the city can move forward with any plans.

Elsa Robins