Mayor Outlines Budget for 2013: No Layoffs, Fewer Street Improvements

By KBJR News 1

August 27, 2012 Updated Aug 27, 2012 at 9:40 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - It's another slim budget for Duluth, but one the mayor says has more stability.

After years of large cuts, Mayor Don Ness says this budget reflects the hard work of the last five years.

This is the fifth year in the row the overall budget has gotten smaller.

At $73.7 million, the 2013 budget is about a million less than the 2012 budget.

The budget also recommends the lowest recommended levy in 12 years at 1.6 percent.

That means a homeowner of a homestead worth $158,000 would pay about $7 more next year.

Mayor Ness also pointed out the budget contains no layoffs, but will reduce overall staff by 14 positions through retirements and cutting open positions.

Because of ongoing litigation with the Fond du Luth Casino, and a dwindling street improvements fund, the city will not be doing as more for Duluth's streets.

"While we'll continue our focus on maintaining streets, our crack sealing and our pothole patching. We won't be able to improve the streets like to the level that we have in recent years because we don't have that very important revenue source coming in," said Mayor Ness.

The city council voted Monday not to use money from the Community Investment Trust Fund to cancel out 2013 debt service from the past related to street improvements.

Some councilors said the CIT Fund, which is down to close to $20 million, has already had too much money taken out.

That fund is where the casino profits were stored for the City's street improvements.

The city's chief administrative officer Dave Montgomery had warned the council before the vote that a failure to pass the transfer could mean a significantly higher tax levy.

Posted to Web by Jena Pike