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Worthington City Council talks budget ahead of December certification deadline

The council met Thursday afternoon for a special session to talk about the city's 2023 budget.

Worthington city hall
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WORTHINGTON — The Worthington City Council met Thursday afternoon to continue budget talks ahead of a Dec. 12 certification deadline.

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The council pre-certified the 2022 tax levies collectible in 2023 at $6,646,866 back in September, marking a maximum 17% increase over 2022. Since then, adjustments to employee merit wages and larger-than-anticipated health insurance renewals have added $125,444 to the earlier budget.

“The tax rate is going to have a significant decrease in 2023,” said City Administrator Steve Robinson, “and as we all know, the tax rate is what directly affects the property taxes that you pay.”

Worthington’s current tax rate is 61.222%, somewhat higher than the 10-year average of 54.62%. Computed by dividing the levy by the net tax capacity of all taxable properties in the city, the tax rate is the factor that directly determines the amount of city property taxes paid by all commercial, industrial and residential property owners.

City staff was advised by the Nobles County Auditor-Treasurer that the city's net tax capacity is increasing 26.73% in 2023 — from $9,279,762 to $11,759,822.

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“The minimum that will reduce to is 56.5%, which is well over a 7.5% decrease in the tax rate,” said Robinson, once the city reaches its pre-certification level.

The council was presented with several options on how to reach its pre-certification level, including transferring an additional $100,000 from the city’s liquor fund. However, with drainage issues and the general condition of the liquor store’s parking lot in need of addressing, the council decided it was best to leave those funds alone.

Council members then discussed transferring $200,000 from the city’s safety promotion and loss control reserve fund, which would put them under the pre-certification level.

Additionally, Councilman Chad Cummings said that while the city had budgeted $99,566 for a proposed Community Relations and Communications position next year, it was “realistic” to say the job probably wouldn't be filled until the end of the first quarter.

“The job description isn’t even done, nor has it been advertised and it’s December 1 already,” Cummings said, after calculating that the late timeline to hire someone could take approximately $25,000 to $30,000 off the projected salary for 2023.

Those adjustments to the current tax levy would put the tax rate at 55.77%, an almost nine-point decrease from last year.

“We’d be back in that mid-fifty range that we have historically been at,” said Robinson.

The council will meet once more prior to its Dec. 12 certification meeting to discuss any remaining budget items.

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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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