Monday, January 24, 2011
Advocating for You While Contesting Fee Increase
One month ago, the City Council appeared poised to impose the entire Street Lighting Utility Fee increase on Duluth's 3,820 businesses. The majority of council members concurrently indicated a desire to avoid having Duluth's 24,100 residential units incur any portion of the planned fee increase. Politically, it was understandable. Burden 3,820 business owners versus burdening 24,200 homeowners.
While it may have been politically justifiable, it would have been unfair to our business owners and operators. Some businesses would see their monthly street lighting utility fee increase from $3.50 to $102. Others from $3.50 to $51 per month. Others from $3.50 to $17.
The proposed formula for determining if a business would pay $102 or $17 per month is based on the City's Stormwater Utility Unit Rate System. Unfortunately, there is no direct correlation between a business' stormwater utility usage and its street lighting usage. The formula is flawed. So, too, is the disproportionate fee on business.
This is why, last week, the Chamber proposed a more equitable plan for distributing the proposed fee increase. We respectfully presented our proposal to the Duluth City Council at a meeting last Thursday. It included increasing the monthly fee on residences from $3.50 to $6.15 and the fee on businesses from $3.50 to $15.25.
The proposal takes into account that all of us, homeowners and businesses alike, benefit from the City's 3,500 street lights and 100 signalized intersection lights (stop & go lights). Businesses would still pay more to assist in enabling the City to upgrade and modernize its street lighting system. We believe it is a fair solution.
The city council is planning to decide on the street lighting utility fee at its meeting this evening at 7 p.m., in the City Council Chambers, located in the 3rd floor of City Hall. I encourage you to attend the meeting and to have your voice heard. You can also view the meeting on Public Access Community Television or listen in on 103.3 KUMD FM Radio.
Be assured, the Chamber's leadership will attend the meeting to advocate on your behalf. It will be an honor to do so. Please let me know if you have suggestions, concerns or insight to share with me regarding the proposed fee increase. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-3751.
posted by David Ross