WORTHINGTON — The Worthington City Council approved a proposed 2022 tax levy of $5,915,331 during its Monday night meeting, representing a 17.08% increase over the amount of taxes it needed to operate in 2021.

Worthington City Administrator Steve Robinson said $4,764,787 of the proposed levy will go toward operations costs, with the remaining $1,150,544 designated for special tax levies.

The city is required to certify its preliminary levy this month. Once set, the council and city staff have until mid-December to find ways to reduce the amount of money needed, but they cannot increase it.

Mayor Mike Kuhle said one of the reasons for the significant increase in the proposed levy is because the city is putting more money into improving city streets.

“We need to keep up on roads and streets in the city — we’ve fallen behind,” he said.

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Councilman Chad Cummings also pointed to the new amenities in the community — all of which come with costs for staffing and maintenance.

“We don’t know what it’s going to take to manage utilities … and repairs for the new field house,” he said. “You’ve got to start somewhere. You put yourself in a position where we can operate it without having to come back in the middle of the year to get more money.”

Robinson said about 6% of the proposed levy increase is to fund newly completed amenities within the city. He also noted that there are additional unknowns, particularly with health insurance. The city budgeted an estimate, but final amounts aren’t yet available.

“Plus, there may be places that we tweak (the budget),” Robinson said.

In addition to approving the proposed city levy, council members approved the Housing and Redevelopment Authority’s 2022 proposed levy of $145,000, which is a $2,000 increase over 2021.

The public will have an opportunity to weigh in on the proposed property tax levy during a public Truth in Taxation hearing, scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 13 in the Worthington City Hall Council Chambers.

In other action, the council:

  • Appointed Pat Shorter as Worthington’s new fire chief. Shorter has served more than 24 years with the Worthington Fire Department and was chosen for the top post by WFD personnel during an Aug. 31 meeting of the department.

  • Approved a professional services agreement between the city, Worthington Public Utilities and Bolton & Menk to consolidate and enhance GIS capabilities in mapping critical infrastructure, including electrical, water, wastewater and storm sewer distribution systems. The agreement calls for implementing the ArcGIS online platform, which will be accessible via mobile applications, GPS devices and desktop GIS applications.

The city and WPU will share in the $15,000 annual subscription cost assessed through a three-year contract with Bolton & Menk. The total proposed fee for the work requested by the city and WPU staff is $99,650. The costs will be paid with money received from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP). Work is scheduled to begin this year and continue through 2022.

  • Approved position guidelines for full- and part-time staff that will need to be hired to work at the JBS Field House.

  • Set a public hearing on proposed assessments for sanitary sewer and water main improvements in the Glenwood Heights Second Addition for Oct. 11, during a regularly scheduled City Council meeting. The hearing will also include a discussion on unpaid charges including removal of ice and snow, solid waste, noxious weeds and vegetation.

  • Was notified that parking restrictions will be implemented along Pleasant Avenue. For a two-block stretch of Pleasant, in the vicinity of Head Start, vehicles will not be allowed to be parked on the east side of the road.

City Public Works Director Todd Wietzema said the parking restrictions weren’t set when Head Start initially opened because he wanted time to monitor parking habits and traffic on the street.

“We wanted to see what the problems were before we tried to do this,” Wietzema said. “We are real concerned about kids walking between the cars.”

Wietzema was encouraged to look at other corners in town where visibility is restricted due to vehicles parking too close to an intersection.