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Scanlon residents petition state for merger study

After Scanlon city officials couldn't agree to a study determining the pros and cons of merging with neighboring Cloquet, it seems a number of residents decided to take matters into their own hands -- 71, to be precise.

After Scanlon city officials couldn’t agree to a study determining the pros and cons of merging with neighboring Cloquet, it seems a number of residents decided to take matters into their own hands - 71, to be precise.
Those residents signed a petition last month and sent it to the Office of Administrative Hearings Municipal Boundary Adjustment Unit in St. Paul, requesting the state explore the benefits of a merger between Cloquet and Scanlon.
The petition was supposed to be signed by at least 5 percent of the resident voters of Scanlon. With 388 votes in Scanlon cast for governor in the last election - and if all 71 signatures are verified by Carlton County Auditor/Treasurer Paul Gassert - the petition organizers will have just more than 18 percent.
Scanlon Mayor Marshall Johnson, whose name was listed as a person to contact with questions about the petition, said last week that copies of the petition also were mailed to the Scanlon city clerk/treasurer, Scanlon Planning Commission secretary, Cloquet city administrator, Cloquet planning and zoning administrator, Thomson Township clerk and the Carlton County Board chairperson.
Johnson said the petition is simply advocating for a study, not an actual merger.
“All I’m hearing is (that) people would like to have the study done to see if (a merger) is an advantage or a disadvantage,” he said. “They’re not for or against it; they just want the information so they can make an educated decision.”
In 2013, the populations of Scanlon and Cloquet were 986 and 12,050, respectively. Scanlon uses law enforcement and water services from the city of Cloquet. The Cloquet Area Fire District provides services to Cloquet, Perch Lake and Scanlon. According to the petition, consolidation could eliminate duplicate contract services (audit, city attorney, building inspections) and provide more in-house services that are contracted out by Scanlon.
At its Aug. 24 meeting, Carlton County Board members acknowledged receipt of the petition and authorized Gassert to proceed with verifying the signatures. The Cloquet City Council did not discuss the petition at its meeting last week.
Johnson said he expects the petition to be acknowledged at this week’s Scanlon City Council meeting, the first since the letter was mailed.
This potential merger was discussed to some degree at a Scanlon City Council meeting in June. According to the meeting minutes, Scanlon council members agreed such a study should be done. At the same time, they couldn’t agree on funding such a study - which would cost Scanlon and Cloquet each $5,500 - so it seemed the study would not be done until sometime in 2016, the next budget year. If the state gets involved, it may happen sooner.
That would be OK with Johnson.
“I can’t tell you if it’s good or bad until we sit down and go through the process and get the information,” Johnson said.
Pine Journal reporter Joey Gotchnik contributed to this story.

Related Topics: CARLTON COUNTY
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