Council approves 2021 tax levy in busy meeting

Establishment of a new advisory committee, bid awards for various projects, discussion of the interim ordinance that prohibits non-profit land uses in commercial zones are among several agenda items

Worthington City Hall
Worthington City Hall. (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON — A 2021 property tax levy of $5,052,541 — a 4% increase over 2020 — was approved by the Worthington City Council in the midst of a flurry of agenda items Monday night.

The levy includes a general purpose tax levy of $3,929,921 and special tax levies of $1,122,620, Worthington City Administrator Steve Robinson noted during his presentation of the city’s Truth in Taxation hearing. Among the special tax levies are Economic Development Tax abatements of $25,000.

No public comments were made during the hearing. The council also passed a separate resolution approving each city budget for 2021.

The nearly two-hour meeting included multiple orders of business, including the formal establishment of a new advisory committee, bid awards for various projects, discussion of the interim ordinance that prohibits non-profit land uses in commercial zones, the consideration of plats for residential development and much more.

Cross Cultural Advisory Committee

During the Nov. 18 council meeting, members of an ad-hoc group presented a request for the creation of a Cross Cultural Advisory Committee to “address improved community engagement and outreach with the city’s racially and ethnically diverse members,” Robinson said. Considerable discussion about committee memberships, by-laws and related matters followed.


On Monday, the council approved a resolution to establish the committee, and in a separate action accepted recommendations for its membership. Initial membership is comprised of: Tah So Ghay Collah (one-year term); Kisanet Woldu, McNay Nkashama and Cheniqua Johnson (two-year terms); and Scott Barber, Gabriella Bruning, Abrera Angolie and Andrea Duarte (three-year terms).

All of the new committee’s members — except Johnson, who called in — were present at Monday’s meeting and publicly introduced.

“I can tell you we had some very good candidates for this committee,” Mayor Mike Kuhle said.

Bid awards

The council voted unanimously to award a bid for a lake outlet pipe lining and rehabilitation project to be undertaken this winter.

Robinson explained that overflow from the Lake Okabena dam is conveyed to the Lake Okabena Outlet — and on to County Ditch 6 — through two 42-inch diameter concrete pipes that, in part, run under the future field house building and the Union Pacific rail line.

“An inspection of the condition of the pipes was performed this past winter using multi-sensor condition inspection technology including electromagnetic pipe penetrating radar,” Robinson said. “The inspection reviewed the structural condition of the pipes, offset and separated joints, and voids in the soil surrounding the pipes. The inspection revealed deficiencies in the pipes that can be addressed using no-dig pipe rehabilitation methods.”

The project was awarded to the lowest of four bids received, Michels Corp. of Brownsville, Wisconsin. Its bid of $624,988 was well below the engineer’s estimate of $1,021,365. Robinson said each of the four bids came in under the estimate.

In a separate project, the council awarded a bid for roof improvements to the Worthington Ice Arena to Gag Sheet Metal of New Ulm in the amount of $174,700. The engineer’s estimate for the work was $275,000.


Councilman Chad Cummings, during the Aug. 10 council meeting, stated his desire for the city to ultimately manage the facility and urged that further discussions on the matter take place. He added language reflecting this — which was accepted — to Monday’s bid award motion.

Non-profit land uses

Worthington Assistant City Administrator/Director of Economic Development Jason Brisson reported Monday on the potential impact of taking the former Shopko building off its tax rolls. The related research was a result of the council’s enactment of an interim ordinance prohibiting non-profit land uses in commercial zones, which came about when Worthington Independent School District 518 was considering a purchase of the property. District 518 has since opted to not move forward with that site.

Brisson said it’s estimated the city would need to raise its levy by 1.5% to cover both the sales and property taxes lost from the Shopko site should a non-profit entity be allowed to own it. He asked council members if they wished to consider changes to the city’s zoning ordinance — and, if so, where to specifically prohibit non-profit land uses and with what types of rules. Or, Brisson added, the choice could be made to acknowledge a levy impact such as 1.5% as insignificant.

“I don’t think it’s harmless to let it go,” Cummings said. “Once it’s gone, you’re never going to get it back.”

A task force will be coordinated to look into the matter further.

Land plats

The council approved the final plat for the Glenwood Heights Second Addition, a little more than six months after it advanced the preliminary plat for the residential development. Worthington City Planner Jeremiah Cromie sad that since the time of the preliminary plat’s approval, there were two lots added to the plat containing full drainage easements to protect existing wetlands

from future development.

Additionally, authorization was granted to proceed with a preliminary plat application for property in the Cecilee Street extension project. The preliminary plat is a type of subdivision that establishes the resulting new lots and includes utilities, other infrastructure and required easements. The property under consideration is approximately 11 acres and is slated to be the site of multiple new residences.


In other business, the council:

  • Approved a North Crailsheim Road water main improvement from Fox Farm Road “to a point 600 feet south of the north line of the southwest quarter of Section 22” that’s a component of District 518’s intermediate school construction project. It’s anticipated bid letting will take place in the spring of 2021, with construction that summer. Estimated cost is $280,700.

  • Approved Nobles Home Initiative requests for 1326 and 1332 North Crailsheim Road (Dan Krueger) and 1207 and 1209 South Shore Drive (V&O Properties).

  • Approved the 2021 Utility Department Strategic Financial Plans following a presentation by Worthington Public Utilities General Manager Scott Hain.

  • Approved a 5% increase to Worthington Area YMCA Day Camp fees, as well as no increase to the Y’s summer sports program fees, following a presentation by YMCA Executive Director Meredith Daley. The city contracts with the Y to promote, manage and operate the city’s summer youth recreation programs for its residents.

  • Approved one-year contracts with the International Union of Operating Engineers (I.U.O.E.) Local #49, and Law Enforcement Labor Services #4 and #274 with a 2.75% cost-of-living increase, effective Jan. 1.

Ryan McGaughey arrived in Worthington in April 2001 as sports editor of The Daily Globe, and first joined Forum Communications Co. upon his hiring as a sports reporter at The Dickinson (North Dakota) Press in November 1998. McGaughey became news editor in Worthington in November 2002 and editor in August 2006.
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