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Reader's view: Maintenance fee is needed for Duluth’s street repair

The Duluth City Council is expected to vote on a street-maintenance fee at its June 23 meeting.

Is it a fee or a double tax? What it’ll provide are necessary funds to help pay for the most urgent item on the city of Duluth’s needs list: street improvement and infrastructure replacement, which just happens to be a large unfunded liability that needs to be addressed, similar to the recent employee retirement unfunded liability.

Everyone wants new streets, everyone wants to complain about the problem, and no one wants to pay to solve the problem. Seniors on fixed incomes cannot afford to contribute, nonprofits cannot afford the additional cost, low-income and the homeless cannot afford to pay either. Charging homeowners $5 per month could help solve the problem. At that rate every homeowner would contribute $600 to street maintenance every 10 years. That $600 homeowner contribution is similar to a rain shower making a difference in the desert.

The council is looking for a permanent solution. But with the enormous expense, it’s very unlikely a permanent solution is attainable. Duluth weather will not allow for street repair/replacement to last indefinitely. Before streets and infrastructure repairs can be completed there are always other streets added to the list.

How can this be resolved? Using the word never, it is nearly impossible to solve the problem, but it certainly must be attempted. Obviously, the business sector will be heavily impacted with fees and taxes increasing significantly to fund the liability. The citizens of Duluth will see increases in the costs of goods and services to help offset the increased expense.

There’s no other way; we all must contribute and pay. As stated, everyone wants new roads, and everyone wants to complain about the problem. Well, everyone must pay to solve the problem.

Joe Kleiman