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Instead of Fee, Duluth Street Lights May Be Funded with Property Taxes

Baihly Warfield
Updated: September 19, 2019 06:08 PM

Duluth's street light fee may be rolled into city property taxes in 2020. 

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Councilors Zack Filipovich and Joel Sipress say it will save most people money because it is less regressive than a fee. 

"The people on the lowest end of the economic spectrum will not pay as much than the folks who are at the higher end of the economic spectrum," Filipovich said. 

They say they believe it makes sense because other basic city services are funded through property taxes. 

Residential homes pay $2 per month or $24 a year for the street light fee. Duplexes, triplexes and commercial properties may pay more. 

The current fee generates $857,000 for the street light fund. With the councilors' plan to include costs in property taxes, they would increase the levy by $457,000, which they say saves taxpayers $400,000.

"The $400,000 was for capital improvements. And this was put in place many years ago ... to replace incandescent lights with LED lights," Filipovich said. "We are coming to a close with that capital improvement project, and so we get to save the taxpayers $400,000."

Mayor Emily Larson's proposed 2020 budget includes a 7% levy increase. With 6.5% growth in property tax value in Duluth, homeowners would see about a .5% hike on the city portion of property taxes. 

If councilors approve Filipovich and Sipress' plan to fund street lights, property owners can expect an increase of approximately 1.5% in 2020. 

A vote is scheduled for Monday night's meeting. 

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Baihly Warfield

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