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Worthington to increase levy by 3.2 percent

WORTHINGTON -- The city of Worthington will increase its levy by 3.2 percent and collect $2,757,307 in property taxes next year, the Worthington City Council decided this week.

"We worked hard to try to limit expenses and any increases and keep them in check," said Craig Clark, Worthington's city administrator. "We go through a lengthy budget process that starts (in the summer) and this is the culmination of this process."

But that increase doesn't necessarily mean homeowners will see a 3.2 percent increase in property taxes, because the city's tax base has increased in the past year.

Instead, homeowners will see an average 1.5 percent increase in property taxes, less than the inflation rate, which is generally estimated at 3 to 3.5 percent -- if the property's valuation did not change.

The added tax capacity from new businesses and business additions has helped the city keep taxes from increasing sharply this year.

The city had submitted a pre-certified levy of 4 percent, so its budget was decreased.

Worthington officials looked at other communities' tax levy increases for comparison: Fairmont's is at 4.7 percent; Marshall, 3 percent; Luverne, 12 percent; and Windom, 1 percent.

The city's net levy is divided into two portions, the General Purpose Levy and the Special Tax Levies.

The General Purpose Levy is distributed into a number of funds:

* General fund, $598,398.

* Community Center fund, which pays for the current senior center operations, $44,346.

* Recreation fund, which includes money for parks and mowing the city's golf course, $593,320.

* Improvement construction fund, $291,244.

* Aquatic Center facility fund, which recoups some of the funds from the sale of the city's hospital, $100,000.

* Airport, which is funded mostly by state and federal dollars, $5,485.

* Memorial Auditorium fund, which does not include new construction, $50,069.

In addition, $86,000 in taxes goes toward the Economic Development Authority from the General Purpose Levy, and another $25,000 in special tax levies go toward the Economic Development Tax Abatement.

Debt service funds collected for road projects and the 2004 remodeling of City Hall will total $963,445.

"We are very cognizant that this is a difficult economic time, and any increase was limited as a result," Clark said.