City of Worthington to look at stipends

WORTHINGTON - The Worthington City Council this week adopted a resolution to authorize the sale of just under $10 million in general obligation bonds, which will be used to finance construction projects, for the Capital Improvement Plan bonds for the city's public works facility and to refund some 2009 bonds.

The city will hold a competitive sale September 23, allowing the council to consider the bonds that evening during a regular meeting.

Another subject that came up for discussion was whether or not members of the Worthington Planning Commission should be paid a stipend for their services. Before resigning from the City Planning Commission, former Chair Bob Bristow had directed city staff to request consideration from the city council of a per-meeting stipend for members of the City’s Planning Commission/Board of Zoning Appeals. The basis for this request was the increased time commitment required to fulfill the required duties by Commission members and the increasing complexity of some of the topics each Commission member must be familiar with.

A survey of several cities of similar size shows that while some planning commissions do get a stipend per meeting, most do not.

Mayor Mike Kuhle questioned whether paying a per-meeting fee would help recruit members to the commission, which Councilor Alan Oberloh said would not make a difference.

"There isn't a single person that does this for the money," Oberloh stated. "They do it to give back."

His view was shared by Planning Commission member Ben Weber, who told the council he would rather see money put into training commission members. Assistant City Administrator Jason Brisson informed the council that for the first time, funds are being set aside in the 2020 budget for training.

What complicates the question of a stipend for the Planning Commission is what the city would then do for other boards and commissions. While city councilors are provided a stipend, other committees and boards - the Center for Active Living, the Public Arts Commission, the Auditorium Board - are not paid. According to Brisson, how the varying committees, boards, and commissions were set up could make a difference in whether or not it is even possible.

Oberloh said he does not support the idea, he would be amenable to having a work session to discuss it prior to budget discussions. The subject was tabled for now, to be revisited.

The council also approved providing Nobles County with a letter of support for a roundabout at the intersection of Oxford Street and Diagonal Road - something that isn't scheduled until 2022 at the earliest. City Administrator Steve Robinson said the letter does not approve the roundabout itself, but gives support to a study for it. That process can be quite extensive and expensive, and roadway improvements within city limits require city approval. If the city does not want a roundabout, the county does not want to start the process.

Robinson said City Engineer Dwayne Haffield likened the process to that of baking a cake - there are a lot of steps needed to do the baking, and this one equates to turning on the oven.

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