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Duluth pays for seat on rail alliance, but rarely shows up

The City of Duluth pays $50,000 a year to be part of the Northern Lights Rail Alliance, a joint-powers board looking at ways to get passenger train service running again between Duluth and the Twin Cities, yet the Duluth paper reports that city repr

The City of Duluth pays $50,000 a year to be part of the Northern Lights Rail Alliance,  a joint-powers board looking at ways to get passenger train service running again between Duluth and the Twin Cities, yet the Duluth paper reports that city representatives have attended only two of the monthly meetings since January 2008. And one of those two was held in Duluth.

That rankles some city officials, especially those who’ve been against paying the fee:

“At some point in time, the days of careless spending have to come to an end, and yet we want to spend money willy nilly and not participate in the process?” said 1st District Councilor Todd Fedora, who has long opposed the train spending. “All we’re doing is tossing money out the window.”

Some Duluth alliance representatives said their full-time jobs kept them from attending the meetings, and while city staff members don’t attend the actual meetings, they do keep up by checking “agendas, minutes and other correspondence with the group,” Duluth Mayor Don Ness told the paper.

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But the alliance is disappointed in the city’s lack of input:

“Duluth does stand to be one of the biggest economic benefactors of the project and they have yet to take a role in the planning.” said Steve Rauker, alliance board chairman and a St. Louis County commissioner.

Other entities on the alliance are:

  • St. Louis & Lake Counties Regional Railroad Authority
  •  Anoka County
  • Douglas County
  • City of Minneapolis
  • Pine County
  • Isanti County
  • Hennepin County
  • Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe