WORTHINGTON — Randy Thompson, executive director of the Worthington Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), appeared Tuesday before Nobles County commissioners to ask them to reconsider their 2020 funding allocation for administration of the Section 8 housing program.

The county authorized a $1,500 contribution — more than $3,000 short of the HRA’s request of $4,619.

After an administrative budget shortfall of $27,000 in 2018, Thompson reached out to each of the seven member counties seeking additional contributions. The amount requested from each county varied, based on the number of Section 8 housing vouchers they had in place.

Since that initial request was made, Thompson said both Redwood and Jackson counties opposed the allocation. As a result, they received notice last fall that they would no longer be serviced by the HRA as of Jan. 1. Lyon County, which has by far the most Section 8 housing vouchers, has also not made an allocation, Thompson said. If it chooses not to contribute, it, too, will be given notice that Worthington HRA will no longer provide Section 8 services there.

If that happens, Worthington HRA would administer the Section 8 housing program in just four counties — Nobles, Cottonwood, Murray and Lincoln. Each of those counties contributed toward the budget shortfall — Cottonwood at $2,132, Nobles at $1,500, Murray at $1,066 and Lincoln at $710.

Thirty Section 8 housing vouchers are located within Nobles County and, of those, 29 are within Worthington’s city limits. The other voucher is being used in Brewster.

Thompson said Tuesday that his office oversees 195 Section 8 vouchers, and there are 300 people on the waiting list. That number is anticipated to decline considerably, though, with the loss of two counties and the potential loss of Lyon County.

The vouchers are used to help low-income families pay their monthly rent. In Nobles County, which is second only to Lyon County in vouchers distributed among the seven counties, the vouchers pay up to $575 for a one-bedroom unit and $1,100 for a four-bedroom unit.

“Section 8 is a guarantee from the federal government that they will assist with housing payments,” Thompson said.

While Thompson said he appreciates the county’s $1,500 contribution, he asked that it consider paying what was asked for. He has not reached out to any cities, saying the program already receives tax levy dollars from the city of Worthington to operate.

Commissioners did not act Tuesday on Thompson’s request.

Temporary parking request approved

Commissioners also resolved to support, on a 4-1 vote with Commissioner Donald Linssen opposed, a one-time parking request on Crailsheim Drive near the new ALC/gymnastics facility.

District 518 is hosting a nine-team gymnastics section meet Feb. 15, and Activities Director Josh Dale is concerned there won’t be adequate parking in the facility’s lot. He said he's encouraging local gymnasts and people to carpool, and noted that buses will be parking at the Worthington Middle School lot during the event.

Crailsheim Drive is signed as a no-parking zone. As such, Dale was directed to have those signs covered prior to the start of the tournament, and remove the covers when the tournament ends.

Approximately 300 people typically attend the Section 3A meet, which Worthington hosts every eight years, Dale said.

In other business, the board:

  • Authorized the advertisement for bids to remove the bituminous and pour a new concrete lot and drive at the county’s public works shop in Adrian. The project was included in the 2020 budget.

  • Approved an out-of-state travel request for Commissioner Gene Metz to go to Washington, D.C. in early March to lobby on behalf of the Buffalo Ridge Regional Rail Authority and Ellis & Eastern Railway, which has applied for a federal grant to help fund needed repairs on the shortline railroad in Nobles and Rock counties.

  • Learned the county was successful in its grant application to study fire service districts. Deputy Nobles County Administrator Bruce Heitkamp said the full $25,000 was received as requested, and he will begin soliciting a firm to assist the county with the study.

  • Authorized Woodbury Construction, Worthington, to construct a new wall in one of the office areas on the third floor of the Nobles County Government Center to create office space for an accountant. The $2,273 bid will be covered with monies in the building fund.

  • Approved temporary changes in staffing in Nobles County Community Services. Two four-fifths time registered nurses in the public health department have agreed to temporarily increase hours to full-time as the agency struggles to find applicants for several open nursing positions. The two nurses will stagger their full-time status, each working eight 40-hour weeks. This will provide some of the needed coverage through mid-June.

  • Recognized Dan Diekmann, highway maintenance, with the January Excellence in Performance award.

  • Recognized Nobles County Community Services staff for positive reviews in Chemical Dependency Assessments (184 assessments in 2019 with no deficiencies), Child Support Services (second in the state based on county size and caseload) and Public Health Emergency Preparedness.