DULUTH — The Duluth City Council on Monday unanimously approved a spending plan for the $58.1 million the city is receiving as part of the federal American Rescue Plan.
The biggest chunk of the pandemic relief money — $19.2 million — will be spent on affordable housing. Another $12.8 million will go to infrastructure, including new water meters and lead pipe replacement. About $12 million will be spent on ventilation issues at Duluth City Hall.
Council Member Gary Anderson said it was a chance to "vote with our dollars for the values we hold as a community." Only certain types of expenditures were allowed under the law Congress passed earlier this year.
The approved plan largely mirrored the one Mayor Emily Larson proposed last month. Council members took close to $1.5 million from the affordable housing initiative and set aside $600,000 more for a public safety social worker pilot program; nearly $400,000 more for violence intervention training; and an extra $500,000 for small business relief through the Duluth Economic Development Authority.
The added money for the $2.1 million crisis-response pilot program comes with "the hopes of making it permanent," Council Member Zack Filipovich said. A total of $678,000 will be spent on public safety training.
The plan also includes $4.2 million to replenish city funds; $2 million for park and outdoor space maintenance; $1.5 million for the 1200 Fund that supports small businesses; $1 million for broadband; $550,000 for workforce training; $500,000 for the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC) and Spirit Mountain; and $200,000 for tourism tax recipients that missed out on money due to lower tax revenue.
The city will spend $800,000 administering the $58 million windfall, which represents more than half of Duluth's annual general fund budget.
Duluth received the third-largest share of American Rescue Plan money among Minnesota cities — after Minneapolis and St. Paul — and has more to spend than Rochester, St. Cloud, Bloomington and Mankato combined, according to the National League of Cities.
Brooks Johnson • 218-491-6496