New app for city complaints deluged by Duluth residents

Days after launching a new app for citizens to report complaints with city services, Duluth has already logged some 265 responses and counting on the city’s Resident Problem Reporter.

The online service was announced on March 24 as a new tool to provide “openness and accountability to the community services that the city provides.”

Residents can report 31 different types of problems on the site. Types of problems range from road issues to things affecting storm water and drainage, water and sewer, and snow and ice issues. When visiting the online form, residents will first select a problem category. They should then review problems that have already been reported. If they find their problem has already been reported, they can “agree” with the problem instead of submitting a new problem.

No surprise, the majority of complaints as of this writing — 182 — focus on potholes and other road problems. Some involve potholes that residents claim present a safety threat and go back years without resolution by the city.

“Entire Kruger Rd is loaded with horrible potholes. Ruining my suspension and vehicles every week we take this road…literally the worst road in all of Duluth for potholes. Some very deep.”

“The problem is never addressed. Rather, a cone is placed in the middle of the road for months, leaving a stretch of the middle of the road unplowed.”

“It presents a hazardous condition to drivers and a severe risk to motorcyclists/bicyclists.”

Other categories of complaints listed on the problem solver page on the city website include snow and ice (55), water and drainage (24) and water and sewer (5). To date, 60 or so complaints had already been resolved with residents giving the city a 3.6 out of 5 rating on the app.

“Creating this application has taken a lot of work and input from staff,” Mayor Emily Larson said. “This application will bring transparency in how staff work to address problems while showing the community that we value their input and time to report problems in their neighborhoods and our community. I am proud to launch the Resident Problem Reporter and eager to hear the experience that residents have in using this new application.”

The next few weeks should reveal whether the number of complaints logged by residents continues at the current pace and whether the city manages to keep up with them. Yet the app is a welcome reminder that basic services count most to constituents of a city hall that too often focuses taxpayer resources on banning politically incorrect words like “chief” from job titles and hiring a sustainability officer for virtue signaling on global warming.