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2011 Duluth General Election Sample Ballot

Brush up on your referendums, kids. The city and the school district have some wordy questions for you. (By the way, you should be able to click on the images below to see them larger and read them more easily. The city question is the back side of the ballot, and is a separate image below.)

Another note about the ballot: As usual, depending on what neighborhood you live in, you might also vote on a district city councilor and/or school board member. This ballot has the district council race blanked out and does not include a district school board race.

36 Comments

emmadogs

about 8 years ago

Questions:  Where is the proposition for the voluntary increase in library funding via a property tax increase; how much is it per household on average, and why isn't that included in the ballot; ditto for the parks proposition; if the library question is supposed to be included in the parks proposition, why isn't it spelled out?

chadp

about 8 years ago



Dsitrict?  Is that typo going to be on the final ballot?

TimK

about 8 years ago

When I first saw the proposal for the city referendum  (DNT, I think), the estimate was $2 a month for the typical Duluth home. I can afford $24 per year to help my city and neighbors keep libraries and parks up to some level until the State Legislature comes to its senses and restores LGA.

Claire

about 8 years ago

Yep, $24 a year to pay to keep my libraries and parks going is a small price to pay. Please vote yes, people.

Chris

about 8 years ago

One problem is that the $24 is not listed on the ballot.  Some people who don't know better might fear that it is a large tax increase and vote against it.

emmadogs

about 8 years ago

Chris, that's exactly my point.  This ballot makes it seem like we're signing up for a zillion dollar tax increase.  No one's going to vote for a library tax increase if they don't realize it's only two bucks a month.

So now, not only am I extremely pissed off that the library funding issue is subject to vote, I am extremely angry that this ballot doesn't spell out the two bucks a month thing. 

Claire and TimK, no one's going to vote for this unless it is spelled out what this costs.

Joel

about 8 years ago

Tim's right.  First we need to pass the levy and then we need to change the legislature.  It is absurd that we have been forced by the Republican legislature to fund our parks and libraries in this manner.  The Republicans shut down the state government to make sure that high-income earners didn't pay a penny more in income tax.  The result is local government aid gets slashed and we are forced to choose between raising property taxes or trashing our libraries and parks.  So much for the party of "no new taxes."  If they were honest they'd call themselves the party on "no new taxes on rich people."

emmadogs

about 8 years ago

Right on, Joel.

SAm

about 8 years ago

Joel is right.  If the rich get to pay lower taxes (the middle class pays about a 40% higher tax rate in MN... 13% vs 9% after loopholes designed for the rich), then the middle class and the poor need to make it up if we are to keep schools and libraries open.

Nick L

about 8 years ago

Parks and libraries would cost less than $5 per month for an average house valued at $158,000.  

City of Duluth Parks and Recreation Referendum Facts

Lojasmo

about 8 years ago

Joel is correct.  It is republican insistence upon decreasing LGA to cut the Pawlenty deficit that has caused this mess.

Don Ness

about 8 years ago

Nick is right, the figure is $5 a month, not $2 month for a $158k home - there was some early confusion on that point and we have now confirmed that figure.  That $5 will pay for all of the Parks services for the city of Duluth - it will be a dedicated fund not in competition with police, fire, and street plowing into the future.  If it passes we will also be able to expand library hours at both of the branches to 5 days a week - a huge improvement.

The referendum language is dictated by state statute - we don't have flexibility to provide more descriptive language.  

This is a modest request.  In fact, the $2.6 million is approximately the amount of Duluth's Parks budget back in 2003 (which happens to be the last budget before LGA cuts started).  

I'm confident that the referendum will pass because people in Duluth support parks and libraries.  But it will only pass if supporters get out to vote and help encourage support for the question.

Don Ness

about 8 years ago

This is from the Vote Yes for Parks and Libraries citizens committee:

On Thursday, October 6th from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. the Vote Yes for Parks & Library committee is hosting a fund raising event at Zeitgeist Atrium to generate financial resources to support the effort to get out the vote.  Come for some appetizers and find out more details about the referendum.  

Suggested donation of $25 to $300 to support this initiative.
Event goal: $2,000

emmadogs

about 8 years ago

Does anyone have a website or something similar for online donations to the committee?  I looked for one but can't find a link or any information on the group.

Thanks

Dan D'Allaird

about 8 years ago

Emma, a website and social media links will be available soon. The Vote Yes citizens committee that the Mayor mentioned is gearing up and will be visibly active in the weeks leading up to the referendum. Please let people know of the kickoff fundraiser at the Zeitgeist Atrium. Thanks for already helping us to spread the word!

wildknits

about 8 years ago

From http://www.duluthmn.gov/parks:

"The Parks and Recreation budget allocation would no longer be obtained from the City of Duluth's General Fund. Those funds could be allocated to keep our branch libraries open 5 days a week and expand hours at the main Public Library, thus allowing the Library to operate at full capacity. Both Parks and Recreation and the Duluth Public Library system will benefit."

Could be allocated?!? I am in support of better funding for the Parks and the Libraries, but I would like a guarantee that the funds "freed" by establishing the Parks Fund will be used for the Library and not redirected to some other need (though there are many). That is the way this referendum is being advertised after all.

Dan D'Allaird

about 8 years ago

Wildknits, the Mayor's comment earlier in this thread assures me that he will reallocate parks money to the libraries if the parks referendum passes. I hope it assures you too.

wildknits

about 8 years ago

Dan, it would if the Mayor was the final decision maker. He is not. The council has a lot to say as well. I would rather see Libraries as part of the referendum, so that the money cannot be "reallocated" in some other way (ie: fire. police, streets, etc - all also very worthy recipients of general fund allocations).

Nothing in the language of the referendum refers to the library directly. Hence my nervousness that this "freed up money" will eventually not go to the library system. 

I have lived in Duluth long enough to experience being told one thing and seeing something completely different materialize.

Ramos

about 8 years ago

I don't think I'll vote this year.

Ramos

about 8 years ago

We had taxes for parks before. Where did they go?

Ramos

about 8 years ago

I don't think not voting will have any effect on me at all, on a personal level. It might make my life a little easier.

Ramos

about 8 years ago

You people just go ahead and do what you're going to do.

Joel

about 8 years ago

Where did the taxes go?  It is pretty simple.  The taxes were income taxes levied by the state and provided to cities like Duluth in the form of Local Government Aid.  After Wall St. crashed the economy, people's incomes fell, which of course meant that the state's income tax revenue fell.  Governor Dayton suggested that, given the economic situation, it would be reasonable to have a small increase on the taxes paid by the wealthy so that the state wouldn't have to slash Local Government Aid.  The Republican Legislature said that they would keep the state government closed forever rather than have the wealthy pay one extra cent to help cities like Duluth pay for their parks and libraries.  That's where the taxes went.

Ramos

about 8 years ago

I guess you can blame Republicans for everything if you want to. To my way of thinking, a city that can expand the DECC, buy the Norshor, approve millions in bonds for Spirit Mountain, refurbish Enger Tower, build multiple skywalks, pave 100 miles of streets and pay Visit Duluth $1.5 million a year has no business asking its citizens to pay more for libraries.

I don't know why I keep posting comments. I don't get anything out of it other than irritation. I think I'll stop.

Joel

about 8 years ago

I don't blame the Republicans for everything-- just the things they are actually responsible for.

Tom

about 8 years ago

Ramos, the difference there is that the city actually benefits and can make money off of the DECC, the NorShor, Spirit Mountain, Enger Tower, skywalks, streets, and Visit Duluth.

Libraries, on the other hand, are free to use and bring in no revenue.  They are integral parts of the the community, but they don't pay for themselves like other programs run by the city.  So Duluthians are being asked if they're willing to pay a few more dollars a year to have access to this otherwise free service.  Not sure what offends you so much about letting people choose if they want to pay higher taxes in exchange for additional service.

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

Tom, whether any of the things you listed actually make money for the city is questionable. Those things do make for a better city, but so do libraries. I fail to see a difference.

emmadogs

about 8 years ago

Tom, what???  Enger Tower brings in revenue? The library is free to use, but not the city streets???

What brings in revenue is the library.  It brings in my tax dollars, as I choose to live here in large part because of the excellent, top notch library system.  Many cities lack this essential service.  That's why I don't work and live in those cities.  Our city government has chosen to put the library system on the chopping block.  And with the most poorly worded, confusing ballot language I have ever seen, the city has practically guaranteed that a voter will see only 'THIS IS A PROPERTY TAX' and vote against it.

Ramos is right about one thing -- the city has its priorities seriously screwed up, budget wise.

Tom

about 8 years ago

I would argue that Enger Tower, as a popular tourist attraction, brings in money.  The city doesn't directly make money off of Enger Tower, but it has an economic benefit on the city.  They come to Duluth and see attractions like that, then spend money on food and lodging, and the city brings in tax revenue.  But people don't say, "Let's take a drive up to Duluth.  We can go to the Aerial Lift Bridge, swim in Lake Superior, and visit the public library!"  I'm hard pressed to find a way that the city brings in money from having libraries.  Don't get me wrong, they have a significant value to the city.  But they're not really bringing in any money, directly or indirectly.  So that's the difference I'm trying to establish.

Ramos

about 8 years ago

@Tom, 
Some things the city asks its citizens to vote on. Other things the city just does. That's what offends me.

Why don't we keep the libraries fully staffed and open, and instead ask voters if they want to approve a new tax for Skywalk building?

emmadogs

about 8 years ago

Ramos, exactly.

Claire

about 8 years ago

Tom, libraries enhance our quality of life, they provide a venue for children to supplement their school education, people use the library's resources all the time, either for current jobs, projects, or to search for employment. I would argue that, yes, indirectly, libraries bring revenue into our local economy because people use it for work and for education.  And some libraries -- I think of Seattle and NYC, especially -- are tourist attractions in their own right. Our library could have been, if they'd built it to complement the Norman Chateau-esque architecture of the Depot, instead of housing it in that hideous monstrosity.

Barrett Chase

about 8 years ago

"Let's take a drive up to Duluth. We can go to the Aerial Lift Bridge, swim in Lake Superior, walk in the skywalks and drive on the streets!"

Tom

about 8 years ago

Believe me, I'm all for libraries.  I am a regular visitor at our libraries and I fully support the referendum on the ballot.  

Perhaps libraries do have some indirect economic benefit, but I really don't think it's anything close to the other tourist attractions we were discussing before.  They do provide for some jobs.  But libraries are almost exclusively used by locals (for free) and they don't do much to bring business to stores and restaurants, as the Aerial Lift Bridge and Enger Tower do.  Libraries require a lot of money to operate, but don't have much economic benefit.  That's all I'm trying to say.

And yes, you can say the same about skywalks and streets.  (At least I THINK that's what Barrett was getting at.)  But if you want tourists to keep coming back to your tourist town and residents to stay in a city with brutal winters, you better take care of your streets and skywalks.  If our parks, entertainment facilities, recreation areas, and streets suck, tourists aren't going to come back.  If our public libraries suck, tourists probably aren't going to care.  It's not going to stop them from coming back.

All I'm trying to say is that public libraries are in a whole different category than all those other things.  In this economic state, it's difficult to maintain a system that spends a lot of money but brings in virtually no money.  All the city is doing is giving people a choice if they want to pay a little more to maintain that service or not.

Claire

about 8 years ago

Maybe because it's because I pay attention to such news, but I know when cities shut down their libraries due to budget cuts -- as did Salinas, California, some years ago -- it makes national news. And I know re Salinas, because one of my brothers is a real estate agent in that area, that home sales plummeted in the wake of that library's closing. I think it has since reopened. As far as I'm concerned, a town without a library is not a town I would want to live in or even visit, because it would demonstrate to me that the town has other priorities. Nothing to me is as important as access to information and to education. Though I would like better streets, sometimes I feel like I am driving my car or riding my bike through an obstacle course in Duluth.

Dan D'Allaird

about 8 years ago

Duluth has had branch libraries for 99 years. We have found a way to fund more than one library in our city for a century. This has been a sensible decentralization in a city with as many distinct neighborhoods (and as long and narrow) as Duluth. For many years we had several neighborhood branches. The cost of the parks levy is real and will be difficult for some to manage, but the costs of reducing access a civic equalizer such as the public library will be real too.

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