City council considers change to city charter

Hearing concerns, council members agreed to revisit the amendment after thinking about its implications

Worthington City Hall

WORTHINGTON — The Worthington City Council hosted a public hearing at its regular meeting Monday night to consider an amendment to the city charter.

The charter commission recommended an addition to the part of the city charter that addresses appointment of members of the Water and Light Commission. It would require that at least one, but not more than two, current city council members sit on the commission.

At present, council member Mike Harmon is a member of the Water and Light Commission, but his appointment was not required by the city charter. The proposed amendment would require future councils to appoint a council member to the commission.

"It makes sure council representation is on (the commission)," Mayor Mike Kuhle said.

The amendment would also require a city council member who loses re-election to forfeit his or her seat on the Water and Light Commission. City Administrator Steve Robinson said that there have been three fairly recent instances when a city council member was serving on the commission and was not re-elected. In each case, the individual voluntarily resigned from the commission, but they were not legally required to do so.


Council member Alan Oberloh shared reservations with the proposed amendment.

"I'm having a hard time changing the charter," he said. "I'm one of the few who sees that document as similar to the Constitution in that it shouldn't be changed easily."

Oberloh was concerned about the line reading "not more than two" council members were to be on the commission. He said that means a future city council would not have the freedom to replace the entire commission with council members if it wanted to. He did not want to impose limitations on a future city council.

Changes to the city charter have to be approved by a unanimous city council vote and only require a single reading. Rather than take a vote that was certain to fail, the council chose to take no action.

"I think there's enough question in the air" that the amendment should be addressed later, said council member Chad Cummings.

"I don't feel comfortable voting on it today," council member Amy Ernst agreed.

The city council will revisit the matter at a later date.

Also on the agenda:


  • Council approved an application to block off downtown streets from 2 to 8 p.m. Nov. 22 for the holiday parade. Closures will comprise First Avenue form 10th Street to 11th Street; 10th Street from First Avenue to Fifth Avenue; Third Avenue from 10th Avenue to the alleys; and Fourth Avenue from 10th Street to the alleys.
  • Approval of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for design and construction costs for the W.E.L.L. project. It states that the city is responsible for 5%, the county 40% and the school district 50%, according to the square footage needs of each. The remaining 5% will be covered by any additional agencies who use space in the facility. Site work costs will be split evenly between the three entities.
  • A favorable second reading of a proposal to amend city code to allow recreational uses in a B-2 zone.
  • Approval of an MOU for the aquatic center. It states that the city is responsible for "capital costs" such as construction and that the aquatic center supervisor's salary will be split evenly between the city and the YMCA. City council members requested that since taxpayer money will be used for this purpose, a city council member and the city administrator should be involved in the hiring process.
  • Robinson told the council that Worthington's local option sales tax was approved by the Minnesota Department of Revenue.
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