Duluth Councilors Set 2018 Maximum Levy, Reduce Police/Fire Cuts

Property Tax Increase At 6.43 Percent Equals $25 More A Year On $160,000 Home

DULUTH, Minn. – Duluth city councilors have fulfilled their state duty to set the maximum operating levy for 2018 to a number higher than Mayor Emily Larson has proposed.

In a 7–2 vote Monday night, councilors voted to increase the maximum 2018 levy from Mayor Larson’s 4 percent to 6.43 percent, which councilors say would allow more funding to the police and fire departments by $180,000 and also allow the city’s street fee to start to decrease for residents.

That added funding for police and fire would bring Mayor Larson’s combined cut for those departments from $711,800 to roughly $530,000.

“It allows us the flexibility we need to make sure that were going to maintain public safety at a level our residents are accustomed to. We really do want to see that shared sacrifice. We are asking people to do less with less, our roads are really in dire need,” said councilor Elissa Hansen.

As for decreasing the street light fee in return for that higher property tax increase, councilor Joel Sipress says it’s the best move to save families the most money over time.

“Especially at a time where we may need to ask people to pay a little more to maintain the services that we provide, we have to be absolutely sure that we’re doing it in a way that’s fair and that minimizes the burden on people on fixed and limited incomes,” said Sipress.

So as of Monday night, the proposed property tax increase would equal out to an additional $25 a year for a resident who has a home worth $160,000, according to councilors.

Councilors will now hear budget cut proposals from every department at open council meetings before actually passing the 2018 budget on Dec. 11.

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