Mayor Ness Pitches Preliminary 2014 City Budget

By KBJR News 1

July 1, 2013 Updated Jul 1, 2013 at 10:20 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- On Monday, the Duluth City Council held a special finance session to preview the 2014 General Fund Budget. If approved Duluth homeowners could see a drop in their property taxes.

The Mayor presented a 0% property tax increase for 2014 crediting growth from new economic development which could translate into a tax rate decrease for property owners.

Monday, Mayor Ness along with Chief Administrator David Montgomery pitched the preliminary budget framework to city councilors who welcomed the presentation weeks before the regular scheduled budget meeting.

One of the main points in the budget framework was the increase of business development in the city.

Mayor Ness explained with businesses expanding and a 0% increase, homeowners may potentially see a small decrease in their property taxes.

"It's a zero percent levy proposal, in addition to that, because of the new tax base growth from economic development, that zero percent actually translates into tax rate decreases for property owners in the city of Duluth," said Duluth Mayor Don Ness.

Ness added that in order to provide that 0% tax increase, city departments would be asked to cut $600,000 from their existing budgets. In addition there would be no additional capital dollars for community and park services, no enhanced pothole services or new programs or initiatives for 2014.

The Mayor and councilors also expressed appreciation to the state government for an increase in local government aid of $1.6m which will cover portions of city employee and retiree healthcare costs.

Information presented at Monday's meeting was preliminary.

Councilors will continue to provide feedback until August 26th when the Mayor will officially pitch his proposed budget.

Councilors are expected to make a final vote on the city budget in December.

Jeremy Brickley