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Council talks proprietary funds ahead of 2023 budget finalization

With less than a week remaining before the city of Worthington certifies its 2023 budget, the city council held another meeting to review a series of proprietary budgets on Wednesday evening.

Worthington city hall
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WORTHINGTON — With less than a week remaining before the city certifies its 2023 budget, the Worthington City Council met Wednesday to review proprietary budgets for industrial wastewater, street lighting, the airport, and the liquor store, among others.

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“Any of our proprietary funds, none of them have tax support,” said Finance Director Deb Olson, following comments from Mayor Mike Kuhle that the airport did not receive any funding from the City’s property tax. The proprietary budgets discussed during Wednesday's meeting were described as "self-sufficient," and therefore, would have no impact on the city's levy or property tax.

Discussion of the city’s industrial wastewater fund turned to Worthington’s second treatment facility, near Minnesota 60, which currently services JBS.

“We have an annual working agreement with JBS,” said City Administrator Steve Robinson. “They essentially pay all the cost associated with (the treatment facility).”

The city has earmarked $24 million for the complete renovation of the facility, which has been in the works for several years. Robinson noted that city staff met with JBS representatives earlier this year and gave them several options for paying for the renovations. Since then, no official course of action regarding the plant has been decided on.

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“Right now it’s in JBS’s hands,” said Robinson. “There are a number of things that moving forward.”

He noted that the city had spoken about acquiring adjacent land to the facility to make renovations easier, but ultimately, the decision on the next steps laid with JBS, as would funding for the renovations.

In other news, the council was presented with a 5.7% increase in the city’s stormwater rates. Public Works Director Todd Weitzema broke down the budget, noting that while no personnel would be added in the coming year, the department was making some changes regarding the time allocation of some employees.

The 2023 budget also included a $25,000 increase in license and taxes, relating to the anticipated fee allocated to Nobles County for ditch reviews.

Budgets for the airport and street lighting fund saw minimal or no changes, respectively, for the coming year.

In discussion of the liquor store budget, Robinson noted the city plans to move forward with the much-needed parking lot project, so no additional funds would be taken from the reserves.

The final 2023 budget will be presented at the City Council’s next meeting on Dec. 12.

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Emma McNamee joined The Globe team in October 2021 as a reporter covering Crime & Courts, Politics, and the City beats. Born and raised in Duluth, Minn., McNamee left her hometown to attend school in Chicago at Columbia College. She graduated in 2021 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism, with a concentration in News & Feature Writing and a minor in Creative Writing.
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