Residents of Carlton, Thomson learn about tax impact of proposed mergerA plan to merge the cities of Carlton and Thomson is moving ahead to a referendum vote in November.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
A plan to merge the cities of Carlton and Thomson is moving ahead to a referendum vote in November.
Some 25 people attended a public meeting last Wednesday to discuss the draft vision for the plan developed as the result of input from an initial meeting in June.
Facilitator Andy Hubley, regional planning director of the Arrowhead Regional Planning Commission (ARDC), commented, “The meeting went well. Attendees approved of the statement and no changes were asked for.”
Hubley said he reviewed the entire merger agreement and process with attendees, and there was discussion about the future tax rates for the proposed merged city.
“They are projected to go down after the merger, but up in about 2018,” he said. “That is due to projected losses of Local Government Aid (LGA), which can’t really be predicted right now.”
Hubley said there was very little discussion about any other points in the merger process. Based on the feedback, the merger is still moving forward to a November mailed ballot. ARDC is planning to hold an October public meeting in advance of the vote which will be more formalized as they take individual statements from each resident in turn.
The most recent merger talks were initiated when the city of Thomson suffered catastrophic losses from the 2012 flooding, on the heels of increasing cuts in LGA in recent years. The city also had concerns over the lack of residents willing to step forward to take leadership roles as current long-time staff and board members decide to step down.
The way for the merger has already been paved in some respects. The city of Thomson is already contracting with the city of Carlton for water, fire protection, ambulance service and most of its maintenance work.
According to Carlton County Auditor/Treasurer Paul Gassert, registered voters of both communities will receive ballots to vote on the referendum in the mail. Those who are not registered can vote by coming to the auditor/treasurer’s office in the Carlton County Courthouse to register and cast their ballots. The voting will be administered and tallied by Gassert and his staff.