DULUTH — Voters will decide in the general election whether to support an increase in property taxes to support the city's parks.
Duluth City Council members on Monday all were in favor of adding a referendum to restore the park fund levy to the ballot in November. The original levy, approved by voters in 2012, had a capped dollar amount of $2.6 million. The new version would be based on property value and market fluctuations — which would add up to $4.2 million to the fund.
It would also codify the park fund and offer "geographically equitable" distribution of money for 25 years, according to a news release.
Mayor Emily Larson said last week that the city has been less financially able to care for parks properly because of the rigidity of the way the original levy was written.
"We know that investing less and less in what truly makes Duluth special and unique was never what our residents intended when they voted to support this level in 2012," she said in a news release.
Most of the council members spoke in favor of the referendum during Monday's meeting, including Mike Mayou, who described parks as a necessity, not a simply perk of living here.
"It is an essential piece of living in any city, especially Duluth," Mayou said during the meeting. "This is something we all need, and we all really realized during the pandemic that we need access to these green spaces and trails. Duluth can do so much more if we move forward with a 'yes' vote."
At-large Council Member Noah Hobbs said he was involved with the levy the first time around and remembered the period in Duluth's history as financially unstable.
"It was heartening to see the people of Duluth rally around their neighborhood parks," Hobbs said. "Even in a period of pretty significant distress on our budget, we were able to do this the first time. And hopefully we can do it again."