Ten years ago today the New York Times ran a story titled “The Next Retirement Time Bomb,” which focused heavily on Duluth. The story opened by noting Duluth’s estimated unfunded healthcare liability in 2002 was $178 million. It concluded by stating the figure had ballooned to $280 million in 2005. Worse yet, though not mentioned by the NYT, the liability was projected to hit $417 million by 2015.
Where does Duluth stand one decade later? A state auditor’s report released last summer shows the liability has dropped to an estimated $129 million.
“The support of city staff, city unions, city councilors, community leaders and the Minnesota Supreme Court were critical to this success,” Duluth Mayor Don Ness said in a June news release. “But the foundation of the effort was a core group of five citizen volunteers serving on a task force (created when I was on the city council) that provided a 15-point road map to solving what was thought to be an unsolvable problem. That volunteer effort is the basis for the significant $288-million reduction in our liability today.”
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