You know all too well that your home mortgage is just part of what you pay each month to be a homeowner. There are also bills for water, electricity, garbage service, insurance, and more that combine to reflect the true cost of living in your home. Imagine if one of those costs suddenly jumped 73%, and yet the service you received declined. You’d be outraged.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what has happened to you and every other property taxpayer in Duluth. The city of Duluth has raised its share of the local property tax levy 73.46%, compounded, during Mayor Emily Larson’s six years in office. That’s right, by nearly three-fourths. And the City Council is poised to approve another increase recommended by the mayor for 2022.
It’s time to turn that outrage into action by bringing Mayor Larson and our City Council back to reality. That includes Renee Van Nett, the councilor currently representing residents in Duluth Heights, Lincoln Park, Piedmont Heights, and the rest of the 4th District.
Van Nett has rubber-stamped the mayor’s tax levy increases every year.
Sure, the mayor and City Council will point out that the city’s portion of the tax levy is just 26% of the average resident’s property taxes, when you include other taxes each of us pays to support St. Louis County and the Duluth school district. That’s like saying your garbage service charges increased by 73%, but it’s not so bad because it’s still less than what you pay for water and electricity.
It’s an outrageous increase in the city tax levy. It’s an annual shell game, and we citizens continue to be the ones getting duped.
I’m running to be your District 4 city councilor to slam the brakes on this wild spending — spending that has not resulted in an improved quality of life. If you paid $1,000 in city property taxes six years ago, what improvements have you noticed from the $1,734.56 you’re paying today?
Sadly, Duluth has seen a shift away from providing basic city services and public safety. Recent shootings and other crimes do not make any of us feel safe. It’s not the fault of our fine police department. Our officers are doing the best they can while being understaffed and underfunded. I’ll reverse that as your District 4 councilor.
Let’s refocus city spending and make the tough but necessary cuts to the fat that exists in the budget. Let’s reopen the venerable Duluth Heights Community Club and Piedmont Heights Community Club buildings, upgrade infrastructure, and rebuild our neighborhoods.
Duluthians are tired of 9-0 council votes in favor of taking more money out of their pockets.
I believe in the future of our city. But we can't give our city over like this without a fight.
We can do better. We must do better.
Let’s restore the pride in our city together. I would greatly appreciate your vote on Nov. 2.
Howie Hanson is a candidate running to represent City Council District 4, which includes Duluth Heights, Piedmont Heights, Lincoln Park, and part of West Duluth. He wrote this at the invitation of the News Tribune Opinion page. Election Day is Nov. 2.