City staff presented their proposed capital improvements (CIP) budget last week. The city is on the finishing end of a multi-year utilities replacement program being pushed by the EPA. The proposed budget is presented as tight compared to previous years due to a variety of factors. Mainly, this is a deliberate decision that staff and council have been planning for a number of years.
What is not plainly explained in the budget – and what many residents aren’t aware of – is that the Anthem building will be occupied at some point in 2020. The current city budget does not reflect this, but it is an important factor to the health of the city’s budget.
Councilman Doug Foust explains the Anthem building’s history in more detail below. But the important point to remember is the building will be occupied with income-tax-paying employees.
Copied from Doug Foust for Worthington City Council’s Facebook page:
Let’s take a moment to dispel some misinformation regarding the former Anthem building.
There has been concern over the vacancy at Anthem (with fingers pointed at City leadership) for the temporary loss of about $1,000,000 a year in payroll tax.
The Anthem building was built in the 1970s. As the approximately 900 parking spaces suggests, it was built to house about 900 people. With changing times and changing business models, Anthem locally was down to a little over 300 people in that location. Entire sections of the building were unused, and the facility as a whole had become dated. Anthem had two choices: They had to either redevelop and sublet, or sell and move. They chose the latter.
The truth is that what has happened there was inevitable. I manage the healthcare consortium that is actually their single largest customer and as a result I am close to them and know the situation well.
So here’s the point: When the former Anthem building is once again filled, it will house 2-3 times the number of employees as it did under Anthem. This is simply a short-term cash flow situation as anyone who has managed a business or a household should recognize. The new owner (Bob Meyer, the same gentleman responsible for the LeVeque Tower renovation) is quite aware of his vacancy. And when the building is properly refilled back to capacity, it will generate far more than it would had Anthem stayed, ultimately improving our situation. Retaining employers in Worthington is crucial to our financial well-being, but to mis-characterize what happened at Anthem as a failing on the part of the City ignores the facts.