Worthington City Council changes pension requirements for local firefighters
“With people’s changing lifestyles, it’s getting harder and harder to find people that can commit to meeting the 50%,” said city administrator Steve Robinson.
WORTHINGTON — An amendment that would decrease the number of calls Worthington firefighters need to respond to in order to receive pension benefits in a given year was a topic of discussion during Monday evening's meeting of the Worthington City Council.
Currently, members of the Worthington Fire Department who serve a minimum of 20 years as a firefighter are awarded a pension of $3,039 for each year of active service upon retiring. In order to meet the requirements of an active year, the city’s existing policy stipulates firefighters must attend 50% of department meetings and incident calls on a quarterly basis.
On Jan. 23, the fire department voted to amend the personnel policy requirement for attendance to 40%.
“With people’s changing lifestyles, it’s getting harder and harder to find people that can commit to meeting the 50%,” said Worthington City Administrator Steve Robinson.
Councilwoman Alaina Kolpin, who recused herself from the vote, said people who receive pensions through the state are unable to put any calls they respond to during normal work hours toward the 50% requirement. Robinson stated that a number of city employees are members of the fire department and are affected by this.
“They cannot get credit from a pension standpoint for attending that call because they can’t be collecting time on two state pensions,” he said.
In addition to discussing the amendment, city staff requested the addition of language to the personnel policy, granting the city administrator authority to grant exceptions to the service call requirements in the case of exceptional circumstances.
The amendment was approved unanimously.
Additionally, the council approved a series of security and access upgrades for the Worthington Fire Station. The upgrades will include an integrated network video station with six cameras placed throughout the office areas, apparatus bay and exterior. The system will be furnished and installed by Midwest Alarm at a cost of $9,667.
The existing access system will be replaced by a remote Brivo Access system that allows unlocking doors via a cell phone app. The cost to furnish and install the access system is $14,077.
Funding for the updates, which will cost a total of $23,744, will come from American Recovery Plan Act funds.
In other news, the council:
- Welcomed Cristina Adame as the new honorary council member.
- Approved an application from Currie Town and Country Boosters, Inc., to conduct off site gambling; and applications from Nobles County Pheasants Forever, Okabena Windsurfers and King Turkey Day Inc. for exemption from lawful gambling ordinances.
- Approved a temporary on-sale liquor license for Avera Medical Group-Worthington during the 2023 Women’s Expo on March 25.
- Approved, on recommendations by the nominating committee, the appointment of Nicole Chanthalack to the Cross Cultural Advisory Committee, the reappointment of Randy Thompson and Deb Weg to the Water and Light Commission, the reappointment of Joe Vosburgh and Jessica Williams to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, the reappointment of Mark Vis to the Planning Commission, and the reappointment of Janet Slater to the Center for Active Living committee.
- Learned that the Nobles County Assessor’s Office set the 2023 Local Board of Appeal/Equalization for the City of Worthington for 9 a.m. May 4, in the Nobles County Board Room.
- Approved the preliminary and final plats of a commercial subdivision located along Bioscience Drive and west of U.S. 59.
Prior to the city council meeting, the Worthington Economic Development Authority met and approved a Facade Improvement application for World Mart to install signage at its business. It was recommended to award $1,030, based on the low bid from Western Print.Sayveo’s Asian Food Market was also approved for the EDA’s small business loan program to help finance renovation work. The proposed project includes adding a kitchen to the building and renovating the breakroom area, which will allow for deli-type service. The loan subcommittee recommended approval of a $50,000 loan at 2% interest, over 15 years, which was approved by the council.