Long-term financial plan in the works for Worthington; council hires recruiters to find assistant engineer

“Local governments are faced with a number of outside forces that are raising concerns beyond typical one- and two-year budget cycles,” said City administrator Steve Robinson.

Worthington City Hall
Worthington City Hall. (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON — With rising uncertainty over potential future financial challenges, the Worthington City Council moved to prepare a long-term financial management plan with the help of a finance advisory firm during its Monday night meeting.

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“Local governments are faced with a number of outside forces that are raising concerns beyond typical one- and two-year budget cycles,” said City Administrator Steve Robinson, citing inflation, supply-chain shortages and employee retention among the challenges to maintaining the city’s financial health. “We're already witnessing significant increases in construction projects, equipment and vehicle replacement costs, employee benefits and bonding interest rates.”

In order to combat these concerns, city staff proposed engaging Ehlers Public Finance Advisors to assist in the preparation of a long-term financial management plan and to develop a comprehensive funding strategy for the operational and capital needs of Worthington. As part of their services, Ehlers would develop a customized financial model with cash flow projections of various city funds, over a 10-year period.

“I think it’s wise for us to move forward with caution as we continue to be faced with uncertainty for the next several years,” Robinson said, noting the council would help develop the plan and modify it according to future needs and priorities. “The plan will provide the council an understanding of how today's decisions will affect constituents in the future.”

Ehlers would develop the plan for a fee not to exceed $20,000, and Robinson said unallocated American Recovery Plan funds could be used to cover the cost.


The proposal was approved unanimously.

Also Monday, the council heard a proposal to engage the services of an employment company to fill the open assistant city engineer position. The position has remained vacant for a year, despite numerous attempts to fill it.

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“I had identified 41 potential candidates that were assistant city engineers in various Minnesota cities and suburbs, wrote and addressed individual letters to all 41 of them, mailed them off,” Robinson told the council, noting city staff has also been in contact with colleges, looking for viable candidates. “Not a single one even so much as acknowledged that they had received a letter from us … we just have not had any luck at all.”

City staff proposed using the employment company Ektello, LLC, to help find someone to fill the position. Ektello has a 20% recruiter’s fee, which is only paid if a successful candidate is found. If a candidate voluntarily resigns or is dismissed within 90 days of hiring, Ektello will replace the person at no additional cost.

“I ran through the finances of using a search firm, assuming that if we were able to bring someone in it would be on or about June 1, we're five months into the fiscal year,” Robinson said. “Given the total compensation, plus the recruiter's fee if we're successful, we would end the year $16,700 under the 2023 budget.”

The council voted unanimously to approve the service agreement with Ektello.

Toward the end of the meeting, it was announced that Christina Adame was attending her last meeting as an honorary city council member, having accepted the community relations and communications position with the city.

“We’re very happy,” Robinson said. “We had some good candidates, and Christina really shined through.”


In other news, the council:

  • Approved a temporary on-sale liquor license application for the Nobles County Fair Association; and off-site gambling appications from Currie Town & Country Boosters, Inc. and Nobles County Ducks Unlimited. 
  • Approved the Minnesota West Community and Technical College ball field maintenance contracts, which places public works staff in charge of annual maintenance to the athletic fields located on the college's Worthington campus. For the proposed fee, not to exceed $15,000, public works is responsible for mowing, dragging, lining, fertilizing, aerating and general cleanup of the grounds. 
  • Approved design plans for the Worthington Municipal Airport roofing project and authorized bids, which are set to open April 19. The airport received a Minnesota Department of Transportation aeronautics grant, which will cover 70% of the cost to replace the roofing on the maintenance hangar. 
  • Authorized purchase of a new motor for a John Deere road grader that stopped functioning earlier this month. City staff explored several options for replacing the necessary equipment. The replacement cost is $24,159. 
  • Awarded Neo Electric the bid for replacement of the runway end identifier lights at Worthington's municipal airport for $80,065, nearly $20,000 over the engineer estimate for the project. The bid award is contingent on the city receiving a Federal Aviation Administration grant, which will cover 90% of the cost. 
  • Accepted the lowest of four bids for the airport apron pavement maintenance at $48,716 from FlowSeal Surface Maintenance. The cost for this project was initially estimated by city engineers at $54,250. Bid acceptance is contingent on receiving an FAA grant for the project. 
  • Awarded Ideal Landscape & Design, of Worthington, the bid for the Sunset Parking lot project. The project will cost $459,526, approximately 9% under the original estimated cost, and will include the parking lot, sidewalks, fish cleaning station and boat cleaning station. 
  • Ordered a feasibility report for the one-block section of Shell Avenue, between Lake Avenue and Ninth Avenue, for reconstruction needs due to deterioration. Part of the street improvements will be assessed back to the benefited property owners. The city will cover costs for the center twenty-four feet of street width, along with the sidewalk ADA ramps at the intersections.
  • Granted a conditional use permit to Ron’s Repair, upon recommendation from the Worthington Planning Commission .
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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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