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Council approves increased charges for sewer service

The Worthington City Council on Monday approved proposed 2024 sewer service charges as presented by Worthington Public Utilities General Manager Scott Hain. The “average” residential user (4,000 gallons per month) will see about a $5.60/month or 12.75% 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. That charge is billed to non-industrial customers based on water consumption and assumed pollutant levels. The usage charge per 1,000 gallons was proposed to increase $0.411/1,000 gallons, or 8.5%, 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 was proposed to increase $3.96 or 16.1%.

The total revenue of $3,431,855 to be generated by the 2024 rates is $386,941, or 12.7%, more than the $3,044,914 budgeted to be generated from the 2023 rates. The primary driver for the rate increase is the inclusion of $844,000 in 2024 debt service to be collected through rates in 2024.

Also Monday, the council approved a resolution to accept a grant for the city’s Center for Active Living in the amount of $51,015 from the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging.

The grant period will run from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2024. The Center for Active Living was granted this renewal opportunity to continue work it started and invested in this year under what CAL Director Jill Cuperus calls "The Good Life Grant.” This includes technology classes, raised garden programming, visits to the CAL from local musicians, art instruction and exercise classes, among other efforts.

Also involving the CAL, the council approved position guidelines and salary grade for the facility’s manager. The CAL Manager is classified as a salary grade non-exempt 5 (N-5), which has a 2024 minimum hourly wage of $24.50.

Council members also approved a bid from Robert W. Calstron Co. Inc. in the amount of $298,000 for the planned CAL improvement project. The bid was the lowest of four submitted. There were two parts to each bid -- a bid for the base amount (water damage covered under the city’s insurance) -- and an alternate amount (add meeting room amenities).

In other business, the council approved:

* The second reading of a proposed ordinance relating to storm water utility rates. The initial reading took place during the Nov. 13 meeting, and the rates are slated to increase by 10%.

* Resolutions ordering the preparation of feasibility reports for a segment of Second Avenue from 12th Street to 13th Street as well as a segment of Church Avenue from Oxford Street to Clary Street, respectively, for street reconstruction improvements.

Additionally, the Worthington Economic Development Authority – comprised almost fully of council members - approved a façade improvement matching grant program application for an Oxford Street business.

Maria Parga submitted an application for work to be done on the building located at 1906 Oxford St. that’s home to Lupita's Mini Market. The work includes replacing windows and doors on the Douglas Avenue side of the building, and new overhead doors on the front of the building to create an outdoor seating area for the restaurant.

The applicant secured one bid for the windows/doors from Worthington Glass and one bid for the overhead doors from Midwest Garage Doors. The total cost for the project is $21,739.41. The applicant applied only a few elements of the overall project to this application since the cost is well over the threshold for the maximum grant award.

Parga’s property is zoned ‘B-3’ General Business District and eligible for a 1:2 match up to $5,000. The Façade Improvement Matching Grant Program Subcommittee reviewed the application and recommended awarding the full $5,000, and EDA members confirmed that total.

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