Duluth to form 2nd citizens budget committee

Duluth leaders are turning to residents once again to help the city balance its budget.

In an extreme example of civic transparency, the city of 26,000 is forming another citizens budget committee to help suggest cutbacks and come up with ideas for generating revenue.

Last spring, a committee of 35-plus ordinary folks helped city leaders tackle a $4 million revenue shortfall. The budget for fiscal year 2011 is expected to have an even bigger shortfall, City Administrator Phil McLemore said Thursday.

"It's going to be another challenge," McLemore said. "All the great ideas the citizens came up with, we used those, so you don't have those to use again."

Those ideas included a fee for street lights, a $10 charge for using court facilities and an annual $25 fee for a Dumpster card.

Those who want participate are asked to forward their names and e-mail addresses to McLemore at pmclemore@duluthga.net. Those selected will be contacted in March.

Committee members will have at least four work sessions before making recommendations on the $17 million-plus operating budget. The City Council must approve by the budget by early June. Duluth's fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.