Duluth's 2007 budget awaits City Council's approval

DULUTH - The Fiscal Year 2007 budget proposal for Duluth is now in the hands of the City Council, waiting for the members to study it and give the document their stamp of approval on June 12.

The proposal of $41,706,658 falls several million dollars short of the current budget of $52,572,627 - $10,865,969 to be exact. But Kenneth J. Sakmar, the city's budget and accounting supervisor, noted that capital spending was heavier than usual last year, led by the building of a multimillion dollar public safety center.

"We're not spending as much on capital projects this year," he said. He added that debt service rose from 3 to 7 percent over the past year with Duluth carrying $5 million in debt.

"We're working to pay this debt in the next four years," Sakmar said. "We have put debt service in there as a major thing."

The city's top-ranking official, city administrator Phil McLemore, presented the document to the council. He noted that the new City Hall will be designed and built during the coming year. The budget allots $12 million for design and construction for the new building.

Other projects planned include Phase II of the downtown development effort and other street, sidewalks and park improvements. The passage of the last Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax enabled the city to fund the new police building, build the coming City Hall and conduct other projects without a tax increase, McLemore said.

Duluth also is maintaining its tax rate at 5.1 mills where it has stood for several years, he said.

"I am always amazed at the good job employees do managing the budget," he said.

In other business, the council:

•approved the spending of $35,000 to move the Masonic Lodge/old Methodist church to temporary and permanent locations,

•approved the use of Rogers Bridge Park, including overnight stays for participants in the Three Day Walk from Oct. 19 through Oct. 22.,

•authorized Mayor Shirley Lasseter and McLemore to allow Bron Cleveland & Associates to oversee the federal grants for the building of sidewalks from Irvingdale Road to the U.S. Post Office, items that were incorporated in the 2007 budget and

•awarded the landscaping bid for the median on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard from North Berkeley Lake Road to Rogers Bridge Road to Cunningham's Landscape Management that had the low bid of $29,704 for plant material.

The work will begin in the fall and must be completed by Dec. 1, the contract said.