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Seniors want more debate on business subsidies

The Minnesota Senior Federation has come out in support of a proposed city resolution providing a slower approach to granting business subsidies. The resolution had its first reading Monday. It calls for a change to the standing rules of the council.

The Minnesota Senior Federation has come out in support of a proposed city resolution providing a slower approach to granting business subsidies.
The resolution had its first reading Monday. It calls for a change to the standing rules of the council. It would require resolutions granting business subsidies to be read and remain on file for at least one week before passage.
Carmen Arnold addressed the council representing the federation. She cited the United HealthCare subsidy agreement and said the council was railroaded into making a decision at the last possible minute.
"Many important questions never got a chance to be asked," she said. "We do not want to see this happen again, and we hope you feel the same way."
In August, United HealthCare Services was awarded a $500,000 forgivable loan from the city. The loan will be written off if the company creates an additional 370 full-time jobs.
The loan is from a grant to the city by the Minnesota Investment Fund as an effort to increase jobs in Duluth. It was part of the funding package for United HealthCare's expansion, which was announced in May.
The company is building a 160,000-square-foot operations center on Arrowhead Road.
"We believe that all business proposals over $25,000 ought to be fully scrutinized before the City Council and the public, since this is public money being spent," said Arnold. "We believe that passing this resolution will allow the City Council to make well-informed decisions and practice due diligence."
She added that it is critical that the councilors get a proposed development agreement in their hands well before the time of a vote.
Councilor Rob Stenberg corrected her point about the United HealthCare subsidy. He pointed out that the council had discussed the matter at length at the agenda session held ahead of the regular meeting.
He said it was the type of issue that prompted the council to move to televise the agenda sessions because so much discussion takes place.
The resolution, which was introduced by Council President Greg Gilbert, will be on the agenda for a vote at a future meeting.

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