Voters to Decide Whether to merge 2 Northern Minn. Towns

Created: 11/02/2013 6:47 PM By: Cassie Hart

Town of Carlton could merge with Thomson in norhthern Minnesota.
Town of Carlton could merge with Thomson in norhthern Minnesota.
Photo: Photo: City of Carlton

Residents of two Duluth-area towns affected by a major flood last year will get to vote this week on whether the small communities should merge, saving costs on everything from city councils to election expenses.
The town of Carlton pitched in when its neighbors in Thomson were hit by the flood, offering shelter, resources and aid. That level of cooperation led to the idea that the towns merge to help consolidate services, the Duluth News Tribune reported.
"My husband and I were airlifted out of our house. We had no time to grab clothes or any other valuables," Thomson resident Linda Johnson recalled of the flood emergency. "It was nice that Carlton was able to work with Thomson residents and get us to safety."
Voters in both communities will have the chance to weigh in Tuesday on whether to merge. Carlton has 864 residents and Thomson has 159 residents.
The new city would be called Carlton but Thomson would retain its identity.
"We are going to keep Thomson's history," said Andy Hubley, the regional planning director with the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission. "It will essentially be a neighborhood in the city. There will still be signs pertaining to Thomson. People can still say they are from there."
The communities would share emergency services and the Minnesota Highway 210 bridge. They could also combine administrative services, said Tracey Hartung, Carlton city clerk/treasurer.
"We could merge city councils and have an election for mayor," she said. "Everything will mesh well together."
Last year's flooding caused an estimated $100 million in damage in Carlton County, including about $80 million in damage to infrastructure.
Nearly 900 homes were damaged, and businesses found themselves cut off.
If a majority of voters in Thomson and Carlton vote no, the merger won't happen. The ballots will be counted separately for each town.
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