Our view: Is this how you expected parks taxes to be spent?Duluth voters might be asking themselves this week whether they’d have voted to raise their own taxes for a new parks levy had they seen a breakdown of how the money was to be spent before casting their ballots.
Duluth voters might be asking themselves this week whether they’d have voted to raise their own taxes for a new parks levy had they seen a breakdown of how the money was to be spent before casting their ballots.
The breakdown wasn’t released until Monday when city councilors considered, and then approved, a new Parks and Recreation Department position with the cash, that of volunteer coordinator, a full-time job that’s to pay $42,972 to $50,556
The parks levy received overwhelming support at polling places in November.
It raises $2.6 million a year. But less than half of that — only a little more than $1 million — is to be used for parks maintenance or to make parks improvements. The majority of the collected and dedicated tax money, about $1.3 million, is to go instead to cover salaries, employee benefits, supplies and other costs, including for volunteers. Another $250,000 is to go to youth programs, according to the city’s numbers, which await final council approval.
In addition, as promised, the new parks levy allowed enough budget relief to restore hours at Duluth’s public libraries. Open hours nearly doubled at the main library downtown and at the branches in West Duluth and at Mount Royal, the city announced last month.
So is the breakdown about how you thought your money would be spent?
Councilor Jay Fosle, in voting against adding the new job to organize the city’s many parks volunteers, didn’t seem to think so. “I’m not sure voters thought we were going to make new positions,” he said.
But Councilor Sharla Gardner countered that the position shouldn’t come as any shock to anyone, that it has been in the budget since last year.
Who do you agree with? And does Duluth still overwhelmingly support its new parks levy?
Those, too, are questions Duluth voters might be asking themselves this week.