County Board to hold public hearing on Capital Improvement Program updates

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 Administration • 100 North Fifth Avenue West, Room 202 • Duluth, MN 55802

Phone: (218) 726-2450 •

Kevin Z. Gray
County Administrator




August 25, 2020

MEDIA CONTACT: Dana Kazel, Communications Manager

218-725-5049 (office) • 218-591-2219 (cell)


County Board to hold public hearing on Capital Improvement Program updates that would involve $25 million bond sale for roads and bridges

The St. Louis County Board will hold a public hearing during its Sept. 1 meeting to get comment on proposed changes to its five-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) plan. The hearing will take place during the Board Meeting, which begins at 9:30 a.m. in the 2nd floor Lake Superior Conference Room in the Government Services Center - Duluth, 302 2nd Street.  Limited in-person seating is available due to COVID-19 safety precautions, so people also can weigh in via phone and Webex. Details on how to view and provide comment remotely can be found online at


The CIP is a five-year plan that identifies major capital needs. The county updates this plan each year as part of the annual budget process. Because the amendment to the 2020-2024 CIP involves the issuance of bonds, the County Board is holding a public hearing on the matter. 


Specifically, the County is considering issuing a $25.4 million bond to further invest in road and bridge improvements. The bonds would be paid back using revenue from the Transportation Sales Tax (TST).


Since enacting the Transportation Sales Tax five years ago, the St. Louis County Board has twice used this method of issuing bonds and repaying them with TST revenue, as a way to accelerate investment and improve the quality of the county's vast infrastructure of 3,000 miles of roads and 600 bridges. The County Board approved bonding for $40 million dollars in 2015 and an additional $25 million dollars in 2016.


From April 2015, when the 0.5% sales tax was enacted, through May 2020, the county has invested a total of $120 million in TST related funding; including the $65 million in bonding. This is in addition to $210 million invested from traditional transportation revenue streams.


Due in large part to these additional funds, only 12% of County paved roads (180 miles) remain categorized as being in very poor condition and only 51 bridges are considered deficient. This equates to a 60% improvement in just five years. Along with the replacement of road surfaces and bridge structures, the Public Works Department has invested heavily in preventative maintenance projects to increase the life span of our current infrastructure while maintaining it at a higher condition level.


"Strategically, this is a very good time for the County to issue these bonds and make this investment in our roads and bridges," said County Board Chair Mike Jugovich. "Interest rates are extremely low, and even with the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, we have not seen a notable reduction in the revenue raised through the Transportation Sales Tax, which is the funding source for repaying the bonds. There is no reliance or impact on property taxes." 


"This is crucial for all residents and visitors of St. Louis County as quality roads are essential for every day life as we travel for work and pleasure," said Commissioner Paul McDonald, who chairs the Public Works committee for the Board. "Additionally, every time we invest in a road or bridge project, it means more construction jobs for the hardworking tradespeople in our region." 


At next week's County Board meeting, commissioners will be voting on three resolutions relating to all of this: the amended 2020-24 CIP, the amended Transportation Sales and Use Tax Transportation Improvement Plan, and to advertise for the issuance of bonds. The amended CIP can be viewed online at