Once a Troubled Rust-Belt City, Duluth Turns Its Finances Around

Source: Mark Ruff, Government Finance Review, Vol. 30 no. 6, December 2014

Before it changed course, the City of Duluth, Minnesota, suffered the same economic fate as other Rust Belt cities during the latter part of the 20th century. The region’s economic woes, its aging population, and its antiquated infrastructure weighed heavily on the city’s budget. But today, the city’s finances have stabilized and the economy is strong. To handle the influx of new workers at one of several new and expanded businesses, a major focus of the city’s current budget and staff resources is increasing the stock of new, moderately priced housing. Duluth’s 2014 general fund budget highlights include no property tax levy increase, a net increase in staff, and no draws on reserves. Bond ratings are up — AA from Standard & Poor’s and Aa2 from Moody’s. Of course, the city made several tough choices to get to this point….