WORTHINGTON — During their Monday night meeting, the Worthington City Council moved to uphold a decision by the city of Worthington's legislative hearing officer to classify a local dog as dangerous.
The council heard previous findings regarding the behavior of the dog from Assistant City Attorney Jeff Flynn. Flynn summarized the events that had led to the "dangerous dog" designation, the results of a prior legislative hearing regarding the dog’s status as dangerous, and the recommendation of an animal control officer that the dog be euthanized.
They also heard a statement from the dog’s owner, August Temol, who had brought the appeal before the city council.
This appeal was the result of two separate instances where the dog, a black and white pitbull named Princess, attacked strangers unprovoked, once in May of this year and again in August. Princess was declared a dangerous dog by the public safety director and taken to the pound, where she currently remains and has continued to show signs of aggression, according to an animal control officer.
During his appeal, Temol acknowledged that Princess was a dangerous dog, which he attributed to her coming from a “broken home” and being a “fighting dog” prior to coming into his care. Temol stated that he had only taken on responsibility for Princess in April, but he had begun to see improvements in her behavior and that the attack in August came as a shock to him.
"I agree she is a dangerous dog," Temol said, "but I'm just trying to help her become better."
Though more than one member of the city council commended Temol on his efforts to rehabilitate Princess, it was decided that based on the evidence presented and, at the risk of liability for the city, Princess was too dangerous to be released back to the public and that the decision to euthanize her had to be upheld.
Stormwater utility ordinance amended
Also during Monday night’s meeting, the city council heard the first reading of an ordinance to amend the storm water utility rate, which saw no change in 2021.
The currently proposed budget requires more than $713,000, an increase of more than $17,000 from the 2021 budget. Included in these budget changes are plans for a more proactive approach to improving and repairing catch basins in the community, which have been dealt with only as needed in the past.
In order to accommodate the new budget, a 2.43% increase in the storm water utility rate has been proposed. For residential lots, this will mean a 14-cent monthly increase, or $1.68 a year. Other base rates changes for land uses other than residential include a monthly increase of $1.17 ($14.07 annually) for commercial and institutional use, a 97-cent monthly ($11.69 annually) increase for industrial use, and an 86-cent monthly ($10.36 annually) increase for multi-family use.
The city council heard and approved the first reading of the proposed ordinance to amend the base annual rate. Should the proposed rate increase be approved, the 2022 storm water utility fund operating and capital Improvements budgets, and equipment revolving schedule will be updated and presented for Council approval as part of the proposed 2022 budget.
In other action, the council:
Approved recommendations for committee appointments including the reappointment of Chad Jaycox to the Airport Advisory Board; reappointment of John Stewart, Gretchen O'Donnell and Betty McAllister to the Memorial Auditorium Advisory Board; appointment of Bob Jirele to the Housing & Redevelopment Authority; and reappointment of Dan Krueger and Craig Stock to the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board.
Approved a memorandum of understanding between the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce and the JBS Fieldhouse, which will house the chamber upon its opening. The memorandum included the chamber’s agreement to pay the city $200,000 towards construction costs of the new facility, the chamber's responsibility to operate the welcome desk and additional terms and conditions.
Approved an independent audit of Worthington Police Department’s body-worn camera system. The audit, conducted by Captain Jeff Wenker of the Marshall Police Department, found that WPD is adhering to Minnesota statutory requirements.
Authorized Director of Public Safety Troy Appel to use a Toward Zero Deaths Communities grant. The grant includes reimbursement funds for officers' overtime during operational waves, with a focus on traffic safety and impaired driving enforcement. The city of Worthington has collaborated with the counties of Jackson, Cottonwood, Nobles and Rock and the city of Mountain Lake as part of this process.
Approved the creation of an assistant manager position at the JBS Fieldhouse, outlining position guidelines and salary grade. The city council also moved to accept a donation from the Worthington Early Risers Kiwanis for the all-inclusive playground in Chautauqua Park.
Heard a statement from Honorary Council Member Salvador Adame, as part of his last meeting. Adame thanked the City Council for the opportunity. He spoke about some of the challenges he encountered during his time with the council as well as his hope to continue being involved with city affairs and organization.