EDITORIAL: Bill is overdue, and Duluthians must pay it
When GM sneezes, America gets a cold — the saying goes.
The same might be said of Duluth’s sewage overflow problem. Every time the city fails to act, everyone who drinks Lake Superior water suffers the consequences — including Superiorites.
Tuesday evening, Duluth city councilors again declined to proactively address the overflow problem. The two-prong approach would have created a $9.70 monthly sewerage surcharge plus a requirement for homeowners to upgrade their sewer systems before selling their homes. It had the full support of Mayor Don Ness.
Reasons for opposition included the desire to secure funding elsewhere. Like where? This is a nationwide problem. Washington has neither the money nor the inclination to fund repairs on a scale of that magnitude. States are struggling with deficits. The bottomless pit of “free money” has dried up. Bottom line: It’s a local problem that local residents must address.
How irrational was Tuesday’s decision? Duluth faces a possible Environmental Protection Agency moratorium on new development. A rational person might think the Zenith City, which struggles with an anti-business image, would want to avoid additional investment barriers. Not this time.
Instead, councilors demonstrated a lack of fortitude and responsibility, again banking on Duluth’s long-term solution to all problems: public assistance from the state or federal governments. Obtain outside tax money and use it to leverage public grants and loans. It’s the same flawed strategy employed to fund the Northwest maintenance base and Great Lakes Aquarium.
Eventually, all bills come due. Like Superior, Duluth will have to bite the bullet and stop sewage overflows. The sooner, the better.