On Tuesday night the Duluth Public Utilities Commission held a public meeting on line to discuss a plan to increase the fees it charges local residents to maintain the city's storm sewer system. The proposal entails raising the stormwater fee by 11.25% annually over the next 6 years. The monthly charge current homeowners pay is $6.75 a month and that would go up to $12.80 by 2026.

For commercial property owners they will be charged based on how much "impervious surface" they have. But discounts will be offered for practices in place to help reduce run off. Joseph Kleiman, is an owner of several commercial properties and according  to the Duluth News Tribune he wrote the following e-mail against the proposal: "Just because there is a proposed need does not mean that that need can be satisfied. We all know that COVID-19 has canceled all normalcy. It has destroyed businesses, budgets and families. Just like recent proposed real estate tax increases, sometimes there is a need for pause. Now is certainly a time to pause and say: The world is hurting. We should not consider adding expense to the citizens of Duluth at this time."

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Duluth City Council President Gary Anderson seemed to think that the meeting and proposal went smoothly. As for concerns about the price increase he said that it should help residents in that the fee increase will be spread out over a few years and also residents are getting a lot of advance notice.

What I don't understand is some of these systems date back to the 1800's, it is no wonder that every year it seems pipes are bursting underground somewhere in the city. Why has this not been fixed before 2020? It needs to be done  no question, but to me it seems like in the last 5 years or so these issues are finally being addressed and fixed.

Stormwater sewer fees in Duluth were last increased back in 2016. The proposed rate increases could begin to kick in by January 2021, if approved. But, the Public Utilities Commission does plan to hold another public hearing on the proposed stormwater rate increases before its next meeting on Aug.18. After that hearing, commissioners could vote to approve the rate increases.

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