Cuts will be painful, but city doesn't have alternatives
Over the past six years, the city of Duluth has faced persistent multi-million-dollar deficits as costs continued to rise. This year the problem is even worse. During the current fiscal year, we are facing a $4.4 million deficit that must be solv...
Over the past six years, the city of Duluth has faced persistent multi-million-dollar deficits as costs continued to rise.
This year the problem is even worse.
During the current fiscal year, we are facing a $4.4 million deficit that must be solved by year's end. In 2009, we are facing an $8.5 million deficit. What makes this all the more challenging is that our budgetary reserve in January was at $1.1 million; by city policy, that reserve should be at a minimum of $4 million.
Over the course of the past three months, my administration has been working on developing budgetary strategies. The cuts that will be implemented will be painful to the community, painful to city staff, to the council, and to me personally. Yet I am convinced they are absolutely necessary. Many are of services and programs that I believe in and I support. But unfortunately, we can no longer afford to support them financially.
My administration has come up with 120 different strategies -- from closing divisions, eliminating staff, cutting services and finding operational efficiencies. The culmination of these strategies will result in an overall budget impact of $6.5 million in 2008.
Unfortunately, we'd still have a $922,000 deficit yet to solve.
This is the moment that all Duluthians need to join together and address the issue. I ask for your support, I ask for your guidance and I ask you also to support those city councilors who will be asked to make very difficult decisions in the coming months.
If we in Duluth have the courage and the discipline to implement these budget strategies and to create a truly sustainable operation, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Things will get better in 2010.
Please don't hesitate to contact me with your ideas, your suggestions and your other thoughts about what the city of Duluth can do to provide the best-quality services to our residents at the lowest possible cost.
Don Ness is mayor of Duluth. He may be reached at email@example.com or at 730-5230.