WORTHINGTON — Monday evening's regular city council meeting focused on financial requests, including one from new Hotel Thompson owners Clark Properties and another regarding remaining funds from the 2009-2018 local option sales tax.
City council members voted Monday night to support renovations on the Hotel Thompson by creating a redevelopment tax increment financing district for the project.
Assistant city administrator Jason Brisson explained that a redevelopment TIF district allows up to 25 years of tax abatement, a potentially significant boon to the new owners of the Thompson. In order to create a redevelopment TIF district, state law requires that the building be classified as "blighted."
Brisson told the council that design firm LHB has submitted a proposal to conduct a survey that would include an interior and exterior visual review, an estimate of replacement cost, an evaluation of existing conditions and a list of building code violations — the last item in particular being "key for TIF." LHB would charge up to $5,900 for its services.
It's customary for the developer to finance costs associated with establishing a TIF district, but the new owners have requested that the first TIF proceeds be used to cover the cost of the LHB survey. If the survey is completed and it's determined that the property does not meet the criteria to be considered "blighted," Clark properties would reimburse the city for the cost of the survey.
Council member Alan Oberloh suggested that the actions and decisions already made in regards to the Thompson — including city intervention on pest control and roof repair as well as the WPD decision not to send officers into the building due to the health hazard — could be considered evidence that the property has been blighted.
Brisson explained that there has not been an official report enumerating damages and code violations. The city's financial counsel recommended contracting with LHB to complete the survey.
Council members unanimously approved accepting LHB's proposal, but also directed staff to research whether Oberloh's suggestion of providing meeting minutes and court documents as evidence is a workable solution.
2009-2018 local option sales tax
The council heard a report on total collections from the 2009-2018 local option sales tax and voted to assign the remaining funds.
The sales tax supported projects such as construction of the Worthington Event Center, a Memorial Auditorium addition and renovation and creation of soccer fields at Buss Field. Approved expenditures added to $7,531,486.93.
Collections and interest brought the total sales tax revenue to $8,362,407.93, meaning that a surplus of $830,922 remained unassigned to a specific use.
Council members voted to assign $614,922 to the Beach Nook project, $100,000 to Memorial Auditorium, $50,000 to the Event Center and $66,000 toward repair of the road near the Nobles County Fairgrounds.
Also at city council:
- Council member Chad Cummings reported that the YMCA director hiring process has been narrowed to eight applicants. They will be interviewed via video chat Dec. 3 and 4, after which a few will be selected for in-person interviews.
- A second reading of an ordinance increasing the annual storm water utility rate to $288 per acre was passed.
- Council approved a proposal from LHB Architects to design and consult on the W.E.L.L project. The Nobles County Board of Commissioners and the ISD 518 Board of Education had already approved the agreement.
- An anonymous donor gave $5,000 to the Worthington Police Department to continue the Secret Santa Program for the next several years.
- Council members approved an application for a workforce housing program forgivable loan submitted by Sawywarblutpoh and Nawlahhsherpaw Moodoh in the amount of $24,701.19.