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City council to consider 2023 sewer service charges

Among the items on Monday’s Worthington City Council meeting agenda are proposed sewer service charges for 2023.

The sewer rates to be considered by council members have been developed by staff and approved by the Water and Light Commission during its Nov. 7 meeting. The “average” residential user (4,000 gallons per month) will see about a $7.77/month or 21.5% increase.

The monthly sewer charge consists of two components, a usage charge and a connection charge.

The usage charge is to recover the cost of conveying and treating wastewater. This charge is comprised of debt service and user charges for flow and pollutant loading parameters. The usage charge is billed to non-industrial customers based on water consumption and assumed pollutant levels. The usage charge per 1,000 gallons is proposed to increase $0.83/1,000 gallons, or 20.8%, for non-industrial users.

The "connection charge" or minimum monthly charge is to recover costs such as those for billing, collection system improvements, treating inflow and infiltration and debt service on reserve capacity. The monthly connection charge is proposed to increase $4.45 or 22.0%.

The total revenue of $3,044,914 to be generated by the 2023 rates is $466,158 (or 18.1%) more than the $2,578,756 budgeted to be generated from the 2022 rates. The major driver for the rate increase is the inclusion of $543,200 in 2023 debt service to be collected through rates in 2023. The 2023 Wastewater budget includes a projected debt service payment of $1,643,200 and the use of $1,100,000 in reserves funds to apply toward the debt service. In 2022, the entire $749,197 debt service payment was covered with reserve funds and no debt service was collected through the 2022 rates.

Also scheduled for consideration during Monday’s meeting is renewal of the Nobles Home Initiative program. The program was adopted by the city of Worthington, Nobles County and District 518 in May 2014 and initially approved through Dec. 31, 2017. The program was extended for an additional five-year period and is set to expire on Dec. 31.

Council members are being asked to consider extending the program for another five- year term, expiring on Dec. 31, 2027. The purpose of the program is to encourage construction of new housing units by providing five years of property tax abatement to eligible participants. Fifty-three housing units in the city of Worthington have been approved through the program since its inception. Approximately 17 of those have received the full five-year abatement and are now contributing to the city's net tax capacity.

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