Several community groups have appeared before Worthington City Council to propose their budgets for 2020.

The city's budget ordinance was introduced Nov. 18, with a public hearing and vote scheduled Dec. 2.

Worthington's city charter requires that an operating budget estimate and explanatory budget message be sent to council by the city manager 60 days prior to the beginning of each budget year. A proposed five-year capital-improvements plan also is submitted within this timeframe.

As a part of the annual budget process, presentations were given Nov. 12 by three large community groups: the Old Worthington Partnership, the Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center of Worthington and the Worthington Historical Society.

Council provides funding to the McConnell Arts Center because the city owns the building at 777 Evening St. and leases it to the nonprofit organization to operate the community-arts center, according to City Manager Matt Greeson.

The Worthington Historical Society and Old Worthington Partnership are considered part of a larger special-group funding allocation, Greeson said.

The Old Worthington Partnership has expanded its mission since taking over tourism duties for the city after the Convention & Visitors Bureau of Worthington was dissolved last November. The partnership is "a volunteer-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on enhancing the geographic heart of Worthington, as well as attracting visitors and positive attention to the city of Worthington and areas within the Worthington (Schools) district," according to its website.

Annina Parini, executive director of the partnership, said her organization is asking for $120,800 in 2020.

Parini said the money would be used for a new marketing campaign called "In Worthington" to promote events, to enhance such experiences as the Worthington Farmers Market and to collaborate with other local businesses and organizations, such as the McConnell Arts Center and the historical society.

Parini said the partnership plans on operating at the same level for the next two years so the organization can continue to use a fund that was created after the CVB was dissolved. The CVB was funded by the city's 6% bed tax assessed on hotels in Worthington; two-thirds of the revenue collected went to the CVB.

"The CVB did a great job," she said.

Meanwhile, the McConnell Arts Center has applied for a $220,000 operating grant and $5,000 in community-arts funding. The center applied for the same amount last year.

Missy Donovan, interim director and director of programs for the McConnell Arts Center, said the center provides a large scope of services, including performances, art classes or exhibits.

"We now offer programs for all people of all ages," she said.

Donovan said the McConnell Arts Center, open since 2009, continues to establish independence and would be less reliant on funds from Worthington as it becomes more independent and more profitable, as well as targets new audiences, such as for children's performances with the orchestra.

The historical society is seeking $88,425 to continue educational services, operations, management of the Orange Johnson House historical property the society owns and funding for several group tours, such as the ghost tours held during the fall.

Historical society director Kate LaLonde said her organization plans to continue such events as the Children's Christmas and Pioneer Days programs, which provide educational experiences for children about what life was like decades ago in Old Worthington.

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