THOMSON, Minn. – Residents of two Duluth-area cities affected by a major flood last year will vote this week on whether the small communities should merge, saving costs on everything from city councils to election expenses.
The city of Carlton pitched in when its neighbors in Thomson were hit by the flood, offering shelter, resources and aid. That level of cooperation led to the idea that the towns merge to help consolidate services.
Voters in both communities will have the chance to weigh in Tuesday on whether to merge. Carlton has 864 residents and Thomson has 159 residents. The new city would be called Carlton but Thomson would retain its identity.
“We are going to keep Thomson’s history,” said Andy Hubley, the regional planning director with the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission. “It will essentially be a neighborhood in the city. There will still be signs pertaining to Thomson. People can still say they are from there.”
The communities would share emergency services and the state Hwy. 210 bridge. They could also combine administrative services, said Tracey Hartung, Carlton city clerk/treasurer.
Last year’s flooding caused an estimated $100 million in damage in Carlton County, including $80 million in damage to infrastructure. Nearly 900 homes were damaged, and businesses found themselves cut off.
If a majority of voters in Thomson and Carlton vote no, the merger won’t happen. The ballots will be counted separately for each city.