Duluth, Minnesota

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Elected Officials
Administrative Officials
Permits, zoning
Lobbying N
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Public Records N
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Local Taxes N
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Transparency grading process

Duluth is a port city in the U.S. state of Minnesota and the county seat of St. Louis County. The fourth largest city in Minnesota, Duluth had a total population of 86,265 in the 2010 census.[1] At the westernmost point of the Great Lakes on the north shore of Lake Superior, Duluth is linked to the Atlantic Ocean 2,300 miles away via the Great Lakes and Erie Canal/New York State Barge Canal or Saint Lawrence Seaway passages and is the Atlantic Ocean's westernmost deep-water port.[2]

Duluth forms a metropolitan area with Superior, Wisconsin. Called the Twin Ports, these two cities share the Duluth-Superior harbor and together are the Great Lakes largest and one of the most important ports, shipping coal, iron ore and grain. As a tourist destination for the Midwest, Duluth features America's only all-freshwater aquarium, the Great Lakes Aquarium; the Aerial Lift Bridge which spans the short canal into Duluth's harbor; Park Point, the world's longest freshwater sandbar, spanning 6 miles; and is a launching point for the North Shore.[3]

Website evaluation

The good

  • Current and past budgets are posted.[4]
  • City Council agendas[5], minutes[6], and meeting schedules[7] posted.
  • City Councilors[8] and Mayor[9] listed with contact information.
  • Contact for the Chief Administrative Officer is posted.[10]
  • Building permits are posted.[11]
  • Business permits and licenses are posted.[12]
  • Zoning information posted[13]
  • Audits are posted[4]
  • Union labor contracts are posted.[14]
  • Current and past RFPs and Bids are posted[15]

The bad

  • Does not disclose information about how much is spent on lobbying or if they use government sector lobbying or government sector lobbying associations
  • There is no information on how to request public records consistent with the Minnesota Data Practices Act
  • There is no information on common taxes imposed by the city and how the tax dollars are used.

City Council

Duluth has a Mayor-Council form of government, with the City Administration making policy proposals to a nine member City Council. Duluth's five representational districts are divided into 36 precincts. Each of the five council districts elects its own councilor. There are also four at large councilors, representing the entire city.[16] Current councilors are:[8]

Name District (precincts) Term expires
Jeff Anderson At Large January 9, 2012
Patrick Boyle 2nd District (pcts. 8-13) January 6, 2014
Tony Cuneo At Large January 9, 2012
Todd Fedora 1sr District (pcts. 1-7) January 9, 2012
Jay Fosle 5th District (pcts. 30-36) January 9, 2012
Sharla Gardner
Council President
3rd District (pcts. 14-22) January 9, 2012
Jacqueline Halberg 4th District (pcts. 23-29) January 9, 2012
Dan Hartman
Council Vice President
At Large January 6, 2014
Jim Stauber At Large January 6, 2014


Don Ness was elected Mayor of Duluth in November 2007. In 1999, Ness was elected to the Duluth City Council, where he served eight years, including two years as Council President.[9]

No information is posted on the role of the Mayor in the government of Duluth.


The Chief Administrative Officer is appointed by the Mayor for an indefinite term and is the Mayor's principal assistant. The City Manager is responsible for the activities of all offices, departments and boards, and investigations and studies of the internal organization and procedure of any office or department within the City of Duluth.[10]

The Chief Administrative Officer makes information available to the Mayor, the City Council and the public concerning the current status of the financial affairs of the City and all offices, departments and boards receiving appropriations from the city; attends meetings of the Council and makes available such information as it may require.[10]

The Chief Administrative Officer supervises the heads of all City of Duluth departments except the Attorneys Office. The Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Duluth is David Montgomery.[10]


2011 Revenues:[17]

Revenue Source 2008 Actual 2009 Actual 2010 Budget 2011 Budget % of 2011
Property Taxes 11,992,527 14,064,170 17,176,100 17,791,500 6.7%
Other Taxes 20,435,224 20,613,965 20,843,100 20,225,000 7.7%
Licenses & Fines 2,022,958 2,416,804 3,422,700 2,836,800 1.1%
Intergovernmental 53,089,692 54,524,174 61,187,800 53,470,900 20.3%
Charges for Services 47,619,608 52,579,501 54,604,700 55,151,700 20.9%
Sales 57,434,235 44,941,587 51,702,300 43,383,600 16.4%
Miscellaneous 36,345,386 21,968,895 23,788,200 21,847,700 8.3%
All Other Sources 89,639,289 74,193,058 47,964,200 49,345,800 18.7%
Total Revenues $318,578,919 $285,302,154 $280,689,100 $264,053,000

2011 Expenditures:[17]

Expenditure 2008 Actual 2009 Actual 2010 Budget 2011 Budget % of 2011 Budget
Salaries & Benefits 74,220,904 75,166,115 74,833,900 75,225,800 27.1%
Other Operating Expense 105,169,929 87,391,288 96,480,000 32.2%
Capital Outlay 18,675,904 35,118,317 45,746,000 38,239,319 13.8%
Claims 18,261,931 21,290,375 21,840,100 20,120,200 7.2%
Debt Services 17,158,613 20,389,023 14,570,000 18,067,900
Other Charges 24,057,555 36,788,437 37,612,100 36,919,300
Total Expenditures 257,544,836 276,143,555 291,082,100 277,962,319


Main article: Minnesota government sector lobbying

Duluth has spent the following on government sector lobbying from 2005-2009. This includes both contracts with lobbyists and membership in government sector lobbying associations:

Year Amount
2009 $117,207
2008 $100,469
2007 $44,940
2006 $71,261
2005 $64,452

Data obtained from Minnesota State Auditor Lobbying Reports

Emergency Services


The Duluth Fire Department provides emergency services to the City of Duluth. These emergency services include fire suppression services, emergency medical services, hazardous materials response, confined space rescue, high level rescue, vehicle extrication, water rescue and ice rescue.[18]

When responding to emergencies, response time is critical. Duluth boost an excellent average response time of under 3:30 minutes. Duluth faces response time challenges because of the unique shape and size of the city. Duluth staffs nine strategically located fire stations with 132 firefighters. The stations are placed in geographic locations that allow the best response time possible. Listed below are brief outlines of emergency services provided:[18]

  • Fire Suppression
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Hazardous Materials Response
  • Emergency Management
  • Confined Space Rescue
  • High Angle Rescue
  • Vehicle Extrication
  • Water Rescue
  • Ice Rescue

External links