In his more than 20 years of service to the Litchfield Police Department, Jason Black has gone from a a dispatcher to a police officer to a sergeant in his hometown police department. As of Thursday, Dec. 5, Black can now add lieutenant to that list of accomplishments.
A veteran of the Illinois Army National Guard and a 1990 graduate of Litchfield High School, Black has been with the Litchfield Police Department since 1997, where he served as a dispatcher until his appointment as an officer in 2001. In 2005 he was promoted to sergeant and has been the code enforcement officer since 2010.
“He has assisted in command decisions since that time,” Police Chief Kenny Ryker said of Black’s time as sergeant. “He has focused heavily on ordinance enforcement and continuing to find more efficient ways to conduct the business of the Litchfield Police Department. He brings a great deal of experience to his new position of lieutenant.”
Lieutenant Black was sworn in by Mayor Steve Dougherty, with assistance from Black’s wife, Michelle.
Paul Osborne and Jereme Zook of Kerber, Eck and Braeckel were center stage once the meeting began as they presented the audit for the city and information on this year’s tax levy.
Osborne went first, providing an assessment of the city’s accounting principals. After updating the council on the city’s financial health, which included a $402,000 increase in revenues, Osborne said that two challenges still persist: funding the city’s police and fire pensions and the shortfall in the water and sewer fund.
The city currently has funds for 49 percent of police pension liabilities, up from 47 percent in 2018, and 65 percent of fire pension liabilities, up from 62 percent. According to Osborne, both numbers are better than some other municipalities in the area.
Osborne said that the cash balance of the water and sewer funds have stabilized, but the city is still subsidizing the funds with a transfer of $810,000 from the general fund. He warned that further rate increases may be needed.
Osborne ended by saying that the city had met all of its financial goals set in the budget for that fiscal year.
Zook took over for the tax levy portion of the presentation, providing information on this year’s tax levy, which will increase one percent over last year to $1.532 million, the smallest increase since 2015.
The city’s projected equalized assessed valuation is expected to increase by 1.75 percent, meaning that the city’s property tax rate should go down by .75 percent, the lowest since 2010.
Zook said that the state mandates the police and fire pension contributions, which increased 7.72 percent over last year’s amount. The police and fire pension plans make up more than half of the city’s tax levy, at $793,670. Zook said that the city’s general fund will decrease by 5.35 percent, about $42,000.
Both the audit and tax levy votes passed by an 8-0 margin.
The council approved seven other motions before entering into closed session for approximately 20 minutes, none of which drew any discussion. Those items included acceptance of the minutes from the Nov. 21 meeting, a motion to transfer funds and pay bills, approval of the purchase of plastic partitions for the Lake Lou Yaeger comfort stations (using Kilton Fund money) for $9,650, to renew membership in the MCEDC for $6,939, to approve renovation of the Lake Lou Yaeger signs for $2,590 and to approve an agreement with Andres Medical Billing as an outside billing service to collect monies for all ambulance services rendered by the Litchfield Fire Department, beginning on Jan. 1, 2020. Litchfield had a previous contract for ambulance service billing with Montgomery County.
After the closed session, the council approved a settlement agreement with Alply Insulated Panels and owner Steve Dugan in which $285,000 will be paid to the city. The meeting adjourned at 7:12 p.m. The council will meet again on Thursday, Dec. 19, at 6:30 p.m. at Corwin Hall.