Duluth Mayor Ness proposes 1.6 percent property tax rate hike in 2015

Duluth Mayor Don Ness has proposed a 1.6 percent property tax rate increase for 2015, citing higher public safety costs and debt payments.

The Duluth plan is slightly less than the property tax increases proposed last month by Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman: both are looking for a 2.4 percent property tax increase in 2015.

Duluth’s finances are much improved over six years ago, says the Duluth News Tribune: there was a $1.3 million deficit in 2008 but today the city has an undesignated general fund balance of more than $7.7 million.

In that same time frame, the city’s general obligation debt has been reduced by $15.2 million, or more than 19 percent.

Ness said the city has worked to develop “bigger-picture stability” over the last six years “to hopefully avoid massive deficits and wild swings in revenue and expenses.”

No layoffs are expected as a result of the budget, although city staff may drop by 3.5 positions through attrition.

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