WORTHINGTON — During its regular meeting Monday night, the Worthington City Council passed a resolution to approve the pre-certified tax levy for 2020 at a 17.5% increase.

The 17.5% estimate was originally presented at the Aug. 27 budget meeting, where City Administrator Steve Robinson explained that the September pre-certification represents a cap, not a final figure. City staff is working to finalize budget needs in preparation for the Dec. 9 council meeting, when the final levy will be decided.

At Monday's meeting, Robinson presented to the council a resolution including a 15.32% increase, a significant drop since the Aug. 27 report.

"I guess I'm a little uncomfortable with that," said council member Chad Cummings, who wanted to see exactly where the reduction came from before approving it.

"We (staff) took the direction to try to get it down from the 17.5%," Robinson explained. He listed expenses on the Homewood Hills project and the aquatic center factoring into the 2% decrease.

Cummings didn't object to the reduction itself, but was surprised that the lower number was presented without a detailed report on where the savings were found.

Council member Amy Ernst disagreed with Cummings's position. She pointed out that if the goal is to decrease the tax levy as much as possible, then 15.32% is already an improvement. She suggested accepting the lower number for pre-certification.

After a lengthy debate, the council vote 4-1 (Ernst opposed) to keep the resolution at a 17.5% increase, as originally presented. Between now and Dec. 9, the numbers will be finalized.

In another matter Monday, council members approved an alternate King Turkey Day parade route to accommodate ongoing construction along McMillan Street.

Instead of continuing on from 10th Street to McMillan Avenue and ending at McMillan's intersection with Clary Street, the parade will turn left on to 10th Avenue and then veer right onto Diagonal Road. The parade will conclude at the intersection of Diagonal Road and Roos Avenue.

Other financial decisions by the council included:

  • Approval of an assessment on unpaid costs associated with the Hotel Thompson, in the amount of $183,035.70, to Curtis and Teresa Williams, Wells Fargo Bank and Lighthouse Management Group.
  • A favorable third and final reading of the ordinance that enacts Worthington's local option sales tax.
  • An agreement to finance environmental services for the former Campbell's Soup building in order to pursue further development of the building into the city's new Field House.
  • Approval of a change order for the Beach Nook project increasing costs by $11,247.50, which brings the new project total cost to $460,459.50.