The ink is dry on the proposed 2022 budget that Superior Mayor Jim Paine presented to the City Council; now the discussion (and an eventual approval vote) await. In it, the Mayor promises elimination of debt, expanded public transit, emergency services (fire and police) improvements, street maintenance, a city-owned internet network, almost $1 million in community grants and public art, and more - without an increases in taxes or fees.

The Mayor provided the snapshot of what's included in a post on social media.  Mayor Paine often uses the social media platform as a way to be connected and stay connected with constituents.  The plans were also detailed in an article in the Superior Telegram.

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

While the budget is often looked at as one operating tool, the Mayor asked city councilors to look at the proposed 2022 budget through a different prism.  He shared, "[w]hat I'm going to present to you are four distinct policies that I'll ask you to take together because they work very carefully together". Those four "policies" of the budget are broken down as follows:

  • General fund
  • Capital improvements
  • Budget surplus
  • Revolving grants

Perhaps the largest piece of the proposed 2022 city budget is the General Fund.  The proposal for the upcoming year clocks in at around $32.2 million.  Expenses included within the scope of the General Fund include "employee wages, benefits, and general operating expenses for city services" so it's easy to see why the dollar amount here is so high.  Included in the plans are additional staffing positions for the fire department and the parks department.  Training for staff is also budgeted into the process.

Those additional positions come without an subsequent deficits in future years.  This is a fact that Mayor Paine is especially proud of:

"One of the most remarkable things I've been able to do this year that I've never been able to do...the future projected deficits are all zero.  We have always projected a deficit for every subsequent year because of the increase in costs.  We've eliminated all those deficits."

According to the Superior Telegram, "Two-thirds of all spending goes to pay for public works and public safety."

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

In regards to the Capital improvements being proposed, most fall within the broad category of what would be considered standard for a budget.  Street maintenance, sidewalks, park improvements, and capital equipment for emergency services like police, fire, and public works.  One surprise, though was the inclusion of funding for Connect Superior - the "proposal to build a city-owned fiber optic network for high speed internet".  $150,000 was included in the budget specifically earmarked for Connect Superior.

The third part of the budget proposal takes up the budget surplus.  The additonal funds were left from the 2020 budget.  According to that article in the Telegram, the thrust of what the city would aim to do with the surplus funds would fall towards "bolster[ing] the property revaluation fund, liability insurance fund, capitol improvement fund, economic development, and the new revolving grant fund".  Mayor Paine added that "[t]h fiscal health of the city is a priority when it comes to spending surplus revenue.  With a health surplus....money should go to protect internal funds and mitigate against disasters."

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

In regards to the revolving grants, the funding would be used to finance large scale, highly-visible works.  The Mayor's proposed budget gives some specific examples.  "If funded by the council, those projects could include a giant mural on a grain elevator, recreating the Grand Army of the Republic Arch at Broadway Street and Tower Avenue, and an expansion of the Veterans Memorial".

Now that the budget has been submitted, the next steps are in the Superior City Council's hands.  The "earliest a decision could likely be made is the council's next meeting on September 21".  Meanwhile, the final deadline date to have an approved budget for 2022 on the books is October 5.

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