Duluth Parks question: By slim margin, voters say no to changing the funding
Voters in Duluth said no to changes to the parks levy. It failed by just 202 votes: 18,262 no votes to 18,060 yes votes.
The original park levy was established 10 years ago – at a capped dollar amount of $2.6 million annually.
The ballot language asked: The city has an existing parks fund levy set as a fixed annual dollar amount of $2,600,000 on the referendum market value of all taxable property within the city, which is 0.0290052 percent on the referendum market value of all taxable property within the city for the year 2023. The current parks fund levy is applicable indefinitely unless otherwise revoked or reduced as provided by law. Should the city increase its parks fund levy to a new fixed annual percentage amount of 0.0472654 percent on the referendum market value of all taxable property within the city, which is $4,236,821 on the referendum market value of all taxable property within the city in 2023, and end the entire parks fund levy referendum revenue authorization in twenty-five (25) years at the end of the year 2047, unless otherwise revoked or reduced as provided by law? The sole purpose of the parks fund levy is funding parks and recreation facilities and activities.
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson issued a statement Wednesday morning saying she was disappointed it did not pass.
“Despite a legally wonky question, a very short campaign window, political noise and it being a mid-term election, nearly half of all voters went with this,” Larson said. “What that tells me is that the default, basic premise of funding public space and parks is a resonant, core value.”
She says it also started a conversation she is “confident will continue.”
“As for next steps on our parks – our amazing Parks staff will continue to do important work with the resources we have, we will revisit strategies for future funding options and we will continue to be a city which prides itself on our green space and the way it holds a sense of place, and a sense of one another, together,” Larson said.
The City of Duluth said the goal was to allow the fund to grow over time with new development and increasing property values so as to keep pace with inflationary increases in the cost of operating and maintaining Duluth parks.
Barring a recount changing the results, the levy will remain at $2.6 million.