Duluth Council Tables Vote on Spirit Mountain Debt Forgiveness Plan

Councilors heard the Mayor's plan the same night as the council meeting, and many said it was too short notice to vote on it just yet.

DULUTH, Minn.- The Duluth City Council Monday unanimously tabled a vote on Mayor Emily Larson’s plan to forgive $900,000 of Spirit Mountain’s $1.2 million line of credit it received from the city, to take up again at the next meeting May 24th.

Councilors heard the Mayor’s plan in a Committee of the Whole meeting before Monday’s council, and many of them said it was too short notice to vote on it just yet.

Mayor Larson previously said Spirit Mountain simply needs to forget about the $900,000 to really move forward and potentially attract a future long-term operational lease for facility management. The remaining $300,000 in debt would need to be paid back by Spirit Mountain by 2023.

Last week she unveiled a proposal for a $24 million capital investment plan for the resort, including adding new activities like a nighttime ropes course.

While Second District Councilor Joel Sipress said there are parts he liked, he didn’t feel council was given enough time to fully read and understand Larson’s plan.

“Had the Mayor held her press conference one week earlier, and had, at the time of that press conference, the City Council received the level of detail and the kind of detail that we finally received today, I think we could’ve acted on this resolution,” Sipress said. “But that’s not what happened.”

“It is impossible for me as a councilor to cast a fully informed vote on something of this importance,” said the councilor.

While Chief Administrative Officer Noah Schuchman said he was fine with the decision to table, he warned Spirit Mountain’s clock is ticking — council needs to start moving forward sooner rather than later.

“Earlier I referenced dominoes that need to fall to move us towards Spirit’s future,” said Schuchman. “The taskforce was one the actions, before you tonight are more.”

“To get to a place where we can ask for bonding, where we can seek a lease with an interested party — we need to get started,” he said.

Council also voted on authorizing Spirit Mountain to pay architecture firm TKDA no more than $102,500 for designing upgrades to the chalet and campground.

That resolution passed 7 to 2, with Councilors Sipress and Derek Medved voting against.

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