Duluth mayor optimistic about city's upcoming yearby Bob Kelleher, Minnesota Public Radio
Duluth, Minn. — Duluth's Mayor is telling residents the city has turned a corner on its budget problems.
Duluth Mayor Don Ness is offering an optimistic theme in his third annual State of the City Address, and he says it's time to invest in new businesses and additional jobs.
Mayor Ness begins his third year in office having just settled a long standing legal case over retiree health benefits. Beginning this year, all city retirees are on a single benefit plan.
"That change alone will save the City of Duluth $1.2 million in this coming year and over $50 million over the course of that lifetime benefit," Ness said.
Ness sees the new year in Duluth as a turning point.
"We're very optimistic about where we're at," he said. "Because of the very difficult work that we've undertaken over the past two years we have now that stability; that foundation, and we're ready to grow as an organization [and] make key investments."
Ness is looking back at how far the city has come since a 1980s recession that put the city's jobless rate at almost 20 percent. Despite the current downturn, Duluth unemployment is now around 7 percent.