The Worthington City Council on Monday, following a Truth in Taxation hearing, approved a 2023 levy in the amount of $6,558,607, which translates to a 15.44% increase over 2022.
The total tax levy includes a general purpose tax levy of $5,531,834 and special tax levies of $975,773. Worthington City Administrator Steve Robinson that one contributor to the higher levy is a more than $500,000 increase in employee salaries and benefits over last year, including what he said was a substantial increase in health insurance premiums. Costs associated with employees take up the greatest share of operating costs at just over 58%, Robinson said.
Robinson added that the city’s tax rate of a shade over 55% is in line with the average city tax rate of the past 10 years, which is 54%. The city’s tax rate for 2023 is lower than last year.
Mayor Mike Kuhle also noted Monday night that if the valuation of a Worthington home remains the same from 2022, the city portion of that home owner’s tax bill should go down.
Also included in Monday’s levy resolution is the Housing and Redevelopment Authority's levy of $151,000, the same amount as pre-certified by council on Sept. 12 and a $6,000 increase over last year.
In another order of business, council members also adopted the spending plan for Tax Increment District No. 7 (Darling's 3rd Addition), transferring unobligated tax increment to a separate fund per state statute. The statute grants the Worthington Economic Development Authority temporary authorization to transfer unobligated tax increment to provide improvements, grants, loans, interest rate subsidies or assistance in any form to private development consisting of the construction or substantial rehabilitation of buildings or ancillary facilities that will create or retain jobs in the state, including construction jobs, so long as the private development commences no later than Dec. 31, 2025 and would not have commenced before that date without such assistance.
The balance of unobligated funds in TIF District 7 is $2,329,478. Unspent or uncommitted funds shall be transferred back to the District after Dec. 31, 2025 and will need to be expended in accordance with related law.
Also Monday, the council approved the first reading of a proposed ordinance that would change the time of regular meeting of the council from 7 to 5:30 p.m. The regular meetings will continue to be on the second and fourth Monday of each month.
Additionally, it also approved the first reading of a proposed text amendment for extra meeting compensation for the mayor and council members. It’s proposed that the extra meeting compensation be changed from $50 per day to $100 per meeting.
Another administration item considered by the council was a residential property tax abatement program that will take the place of the Nobles Home Initiative in which the city participated with Nobles County and Independent School District 518 for eight years.
The new program will abate property taxes for new residential units constructed in the city for a period of five years. It follows the original annual Nobles Home Initiative assessment model for each year of program.
This program will apply to applications received on or after Jan. 1, 2023 until the program expires. All Nobles Home Initiative residential projects approved prior to Jan. 1, 2023 shall continue to be eligible for property tax abatement under the guidelines established for the period of 2018-2022.
Also Monday, council members approved a management fee to be paid to the Worthington Area YMCA in the amount of $61,320 for 2023, which represents a 5% increase over 2022. The Y promotes, manages and operates the city’s summer youth recreation programs for its residents.
The council approved 2023 YMCA summer program fees that include a 15% increase to the 2022 day camp fees and a $10 increase to the summer sports programs fees. Daily fees for youths, adults and families were also approved; those will see increases as well for the first time since 2008.
In another matter, council members approved the first reading of a text amendment to the city’s rental housing code. Changes include language requiring smoke/fire detectors, fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detectors and minimum density requirements for bedrooms. Other changes pertain to enforcement of the ordinance and the appeals process.