Best Practices


Mayor Gary L. Doty

Neighborhood Matching Grants Fund

In November 1994, neighborhood-based organizations throughout Duluth found it easier to make dreams of improving their neighborhoods come true, thanks to the City's new "Neighborhood Matching Grants Fund."

Neighborhood groups were invited to apply for grants ranging from $500 to $20,000 -- if those groups would also dedicate their own funds and/or "sweat equity" to complete their projects. A total of $160,000 has been made available for the program's first year.

Eligible projects include community gardens, shelters and playgrounds, neighborhood clean-ups, fire safety programs, increasing the availability of day care, developing new outdoor activities, etc. Only projects that would not otherwise be funded by the City and County are eligible.

One of the program's appealing aspects is that even if neighborhood groups have no money, citizens' volunteer labor will be valued at $10 per hour. For example, if 20 neighborhood volunteers each work 10 hours on a project, that would count as $2,000 eligible to be matched by the fund.

When he announced the program, Mayor Gary L. Doty said: "Strong, close-knit neighborhoods are an important element of Duluth's quality of life. These grants are a great opportunity for neighborhoods to build upon their individuality. Who's better to decide what's needed and make a difference in neighborhoods than the people who live right there?"

Contact: Pam Kramer, (218) 723-3357


Audits of City Departments

In 1994, the City of Duluth began a process of reviewing management and operations of all its departments, one department at a time. The first review was conducted from September to December 1994 in the city's Water and Gas Department.

This department was selected because utilities across the nation face a markedly changed industry environment in which regulatory change and competition are a reality not previously faced. This study was conducted not only to assess past performance, but to determine the department's readiness to operate successfully in this highly competitive, customer-driven environment.

The city's intent was not to receive a glowing report about every aspect of the department although that, of course, would be welcome. Instead, the city hoped to have the independent management audit firm it hired identify areas in which the department, and thus service to Duluth citizens, could be improved.

The reviewer's final report said, "Overall the Department of Water and Gas is performing at an acceptable level for a municipally owned utility of its size. It has particular strength in the person of the director and the openness he models, in its commitment to customer service, in its work in the gas area and in its self-awareness and willingness to look for improvement."

The report then went into great detail about all areas of the Water and Gas Department. The report's recommendations will be considered and, in many cases, implemented in the future.

Based on the positive effect the study had regarding the Water and Gas Department, the City of Duluth intends to annually audit one of its departments.

Contact: Richard Voller, (218) 723-3413


Artspace Public-Private Partnership

In 1994, the City of Duluth formed an unique partnership with a private organization, Artspace of Minneapolis, to each use part of a former junior high school to benefit the community. This was a case where each party needed the other to make the project a reality. It would not have been feasible had the city or Artspace attempted to develop on their own.

In 1995, the building will become a vibrant hub for the entire community, providing new recreational, educational, cultural and other opportunities for children, youth and families. The City of Duluth will develop a multi-use community facility on one floor of the former school. Programs for children and youth will be housed there, as will programs which celebrate and promote cultural diversity. A swimming pool, double-width gymnasium and community meeting spaces will be available for use by all citizens. To enhance security, a neighborhood police station will be relocated there.

Artspace is developing the remainder of the building's six floors into a 38-unit living and studio leasehold cooperative for creative persons and families. Artspace has completed three other such facilities, which provide not only living and work space, but also commercial, community gallery and meeting areas.

Contact: Pam Kramer, (218) 723-3357

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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Telephone (202) 293-7330, FAX (202) 293-2352

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