Some of Duluth's top elected officials announced Wednesday they will forgo some of their compensation to help the city through a period of financial hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor Emily Larson and City Council President Gary Anderson said they intend to accept a 10% cut in pay for the remainder of 2020. The mayor's annual salary is $97,500, and councilors earn $13,800 per year.
Anderson said the decision arose out of conversations he has had with other councilors in the wake of recent layoffs that have resulted in the loss of more than 100 city jobs.
"A couple of my council colleagues recently reached out to me and asked me individually about councilor salaries and how they relate to any actions that we could possibly take during this time of budget crisis," he said. "Talking with these colleagues made it clear that they had a desire to take action in recognition of this incredible financial challenge that the city of Duluth is facing.
"I'd especially like to acknowledge that every city employee will be affected in one way or another by the tremendous budgetary challenges that we are facing," Anderson said.
In announcing his intention to take a cut in pay, Anderson invited his colleagues to voluntarily follow suit. At large Councilor Arik Forsman said he will join Anderson in accepting less pay.
"It may not be a hugely significant number, but it is an action, and I believe that the practical action and the symbolic action are both important," Anderson said.
Larson thanked Anderson for his decision to concede a portion of his pay.
"I share President Anderson's commitment to doing our part to help support the community and help support the city," she said. "I have already signed my letter to take a voluntary salary decrease of 10% through the rest of the year. And I'm so grateful to President Anderson who started this conversation with me, along with a couple of other councilors.
"I know that we, as elected members, take our responsibility to you really seriously. I know that we feel a covenant with you and our staff. So, this is one gesture we can do together," she said.