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The Duluth City Council learned Thursday that the Lake Superior Zoo will need a lifeline if it is to remain afloat financially for the remainder of this year. On Monday, councilors are set to vote on a resolution that could provide the zoo with up to a $200,000 grant and also extend the amount of time that the Lake Superior Zoological Society has to repay an outstanding $300,000 promissory note. That note, issued more than two years ago, was to have been repaid by Oct. 1, 2017 after a prior extension, but the deadline will be pushed out for another year, if the council approves.
The Duluth City Council will be asked to approve an additional $375,000 in overtime pay for the city's firefighters Monday evening. Staffing challenges in the department have been particularly acute this year, according to Duluth Fire Chief Dennis Edwards, who attributed much of the situation to one primary factor. "Mostly it's the ongoing military leave. We have a number of people who are in the Guards, and that puts stress on our overtime budget," Edwards said.
Morgan Park residents will have an opportunity to learn more about a proposed rental housing development at a neighborhood meeting Tuesday night. Plans now call for the construction of 96 units of rental housing on the site of the former Morgan Park Middle School. That's down from the 120 units previously proposed.
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson aims to take a hard look at how the city has been spending $11.6 million in annual proceeds from its tourism tax collections. Toward that end, she has asked all recipients of the tourism tax funds to provide a detailed reckoning of how they've been using the money, how those dollars have been leveraged and to what degree they have indeed helped foster tourism in Duluth.
Any group that wants to use the Duluth City Hall as a venue for an event — whether it's a protest or a rally — will now need to pull a permit to do so. Earlier this month, Duluth rolled out its new City Hall Use Policy. "This is public space, so it's really important that the public be able to access it. It's also primarily a work space, where we have hundreds of people who are here to get their work done during the day. So we're just trying to find a way to balance all that," said Mayor Emily Larson.
Duluth's residents can expect to see a significant increase in the price they pay for tap water in the future. A resolution to veto higher water rates failed by a 2-7 vote Monday night, with city councilors Howie Hanson and Jay Fosle standing alone in their opposition to increased charges approved by the Duluth Public Utilities Commission last week.
The Duluth City Council added some wiggle room to its pending budget deliberations Monday night, when it approved a higher property tax limit than Mayor Emily Larson had proposed. The loftier cap — 2.4 percent above the mayor's proposed figure — could allow the council to reduce some of the cuts to the Duluth police and fire departments that Larson had called for as part of an overall reduction of $2.1 million in city spending next year.
Monday night, the Duluth City Council will consider whether to reject a proposed water rate hike. A resolution introduced by 4th District Councilor Howie Hanson would veto a plan to increase the cost of Duluth tap water by 4.7 percent annually for the next six years. By the end of that period, the city's annual additional collections of about $5 million would be sufficient to replace about 4.3 miles of pipe yearly, rather than the 1 to 2 miles the city has been able to tackle in recent years.
After receiving a torrent of emails in opposition to proposed cuts to the city's police and fire departments, a couple of Duluth city councilors put forward a plan Thursday night that could at least partially restore funding. Public safety
A well-heeled developer based in Walnut Creek, Calif., has quietly acquired and assembled a chunk of property in downtown Duluth that has long been eyed by many as an area ripe for redevelopment.