WORTHINGTON - The Worthington City Council approved its 2017 budget Monday night, setting the tax levy at $3,675,697- a 6.8 percent increase over last year’s net levy.
During the truth in taxation hearing, two Worthington residents - Darwin Sieve and Roger Westendorf - gave complaints about their increased property taxes.
Sieve’s property taxes increased by 25.5 percent even though his house had not changed at all for the last 30 years.
“I’m retired,” Sieve said. “I can’t take it any more.”
The value of Westendorf’s home’s rose from $77,600 to $105,000 - a 35 percent increase.
"Tell them to bring their checkbook because I'll sell it to them right on the spot," Westendorf said. "I don't mind paying for schools, don’t get me wrong, but that don’t even show justice."
Mayor Mike Kuhle said the unexpected assessments should be brought up with the county assessor’s office. He advised Sieve and Westendorf to have the assessor go over and review their homes to see if they made a mistake.
One of the biggest increases in the coming year’s budget is an additional $150,000 toward street repairs. Kuhle said this was unusual, explaining that street repairs were something that often received cuts in the final budget.
“You can do that for a while but it’ll come back to haunt you,” Kuhle said. "We just can’t let them go any further. We need to get caught up."
In an unrelated vote, the council agreed to have the city purchase the former Dollar General site on Ryan’s Road for $1 million. The building will become the Worthington Municipal Liquor Store’s new site once renovations are completed.
Building improvements and new equipment will cost an estimated $1,044,602. The project is funded through reserves in the Liquor Store Enterprise Fund and the Equipment Revolving Schedule fund.
City Administrator Steve Robinson said the plans were conceptual and could change, as the current plans were created to make sure the building could accommodate the store’s needs. The concept building shown at the meeting received praise from council members, including Rod Sankey.
"That store is going to look really good in that area,” Sankey said. “Something to be proud of for the city of Worthington."
The project will be paid for through an internal loan at a 3 percent interest rate. Kuhle said the project wouldn’t cost tax dollars and would pay for itself, as the new location and building would create more sales.
"There is no tax levy money that's going to support this project," Kuhle said. “Once it’s paid off, there's going to be a big increase to contributions to tax levy, and maybe we could get some extra amenities. Bottom line is it's gonna be a positive impact on your taxes."
Dan Wycoff, liquor store manager, said the new building would provide a small boost in retail space over the old location.
“I think as far as a functional sales floor were not that far off that right now,” Wycoff said. “It’s not a huge increase, but it is something you will notice.”
The council also approved a purchase agreement with PBK Investments Inc. for a new movie theatre on a parcel of land off of U.S. 59 and Bioscience Drive at a price of $77,924.
Robinson said it would likely take six months to get the plans ready. He expected construction of the proposed five-screen, 299-seat theatre to start by late spring at the earliest.
In addition, the council:
Approved an easement for a Lewis and Clark water pipeline, which will enter the city on the south side of First Avenue Southwest to a point across from Prairie Elementary, cross the railroad, follow the TH 59/60 corridor to east of County Ditch 6 toward the water treatment plant site.
Approved its 2017 agreement with the Worthington Area YMCA to promote, manage and operate the city’s summer youth recreation programs for $49,200, a 3 percent increase over 2016.
Accepted a proposal from Midwest Engineering to create an alley improvement design for an unpaved alley west of the Papa Murphy’s site off of Oslo Street.
Accepted a proposal for 2016 year-end audit services from Drealan Kvilhaug Hoefker & Co., P.A. for $20,900 for the Financial Statement Audit, $2,580 for the Federal Single Audit and $420 for out-of-pocket expenses.
Executed a new three-year lease on 100 acres of hay land and 22 acres of agricultural land at the Worthington Municipal Airport with Tom Martin of Reading for his winning bid of $13,859.
Increased Olson Park campground rates. Overall changes represent a 1.5 to 3 percent increase.
Said goodbye to honorary council member Rhina Galvez. Monday was her last council meeting.