Budget cuts looming for Duluth departments

There are a few phrases in the english language that will really get the attention of most citizens. One is tax increases, another is budget cuts.

Budget cuts were being wrestled with at Thursday night’s agenda session in the Duluth City Council chambers.

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All city departments are getting a 0.36% budget cut across the board under the current proposal. The largest department cuts in terms of dollars would be both police and fire departments.

Department heads, such as Fire Chief Shawn Krizaj spoke to how difficult further cuts will be, to already stretched departments trying their best to provide needed services.

“I don’t think there is any safe cut to the fire department. That being said, there are no safe cuts to any department. This will reduce our staffing,” Krizaj told the City Finance Committee.

Krizaj added, “We talk about safe staffing levels of four people per rig. We already have three stations in town that don’t meet that recommendation.”

With these decisions so critical to managing operations of the city, moving forward with only temporary federal money was a clear concern to Finance Committee Chair, Roz Randorf.

“Can you imagine my surprise when cuts were announced on Thursday and broadcast on TV before the council got a chance to hear what they were specifically. This committee was even more surprised when we received an email from Mayor Larson on Monday asking us to reverse our decision made in December and instead use $382,000 of American Rescue Act money over four months into the fiscal year,” said Randorf.

The proposed budget cuts will come before the full Council again next week.