In the first meeting of November, the Litchfield City Council recognized the retirement of Litchfield Police Officer TJ DeWitt after 21 years of service with the department. On Thursday, Dec. 3, the council welcomed a new face that will help get the department closer to full staff.
Larry “Bo” Davis, a graduate of Staunton High school and former Illinois College football player, was sworn in by City Clerk Carol Burke at the meeting, with Davis’ father, Larry, assisting in the ceremony. Davis’ mother, Pam, was also in attendance for meeting, one of the few to be there as the council continues COVID precautions.
Davis, who will be attending the police academy in the near future, is the fourth new officer to join the department since the beginning of 2019, with Officer Cory Bilyeau also returning in May 2020 after moving away for a brief time. Officers Tylor Knisley (12/19), Colton Faure (7/19) and Davis’ fellow former Bulldog Tylor McBride (2/19) are the other new editions.
In addition to Davis’ swearing in, the council honored three city employees for their years of service to the city. Shelly Herman was honored for ten years with the city, while Litchfield Fire Department Captain Scott Haenel and Litchfield Police Department Sergeant Brian Reid for 15 years.
In other business, Wes Kessler of Civil Design, who is assisting FGM Architects with the proposed Litchfield School District elementary school building, spoke to the board about the project and asked if there were any questions or comments before the process moved further along.
Kessler provided plans for the project and said that he had been coordinating items with Bob Sneed regarding the building, including the vacation of a section of St. John Street and some utilities in the area.
Mayor Steve Dougherty said that the city has turned down street vacations for projects in the past and that may be an issue. He asked Kessler if there was any thought to a redesign that wouldn’t vacate the street?
Kessler said that option had been looked at, but the school district believed that this option gave them the best bang for their buck. He added that a two-story building that would not require St. John Street to be vacated would be more expensive.
No other members of the council had questions for Kessler.
In other business, the council approved a pay request from Brewster Construction for the amount of $91,900.67 for work on the Eagle Ridge subdivision, approved a pay request for $374,366.81 from Endrizzi Contracting for the watershed implementation project at Lake Lou Yaeger, accepted a proposal from Martin Engineering for the West Weir Street drainage improvement project for $9,000, approved the submission of the Illinois Department of Transportation Truck Access Route Program (TARP) application and approved a resolution of support for developing a parks and recreation master plan for the city. Four of the five motions passed 7-0, with Alderman Dwayne Gerl absent, with the outlier being the Eagle Ridge vote, which passed 7-2, with Alderman Mark Brown and Alderwoman Marilyn Sisson voting no.
The council also passed the ordinance pertaining to the 2020 tax levy, which will remain unchanged according to Jereme Zook of Kerber, Eck and Braeckel.
Zook said that the levy, which affects ten of the city’s funds, will remain at $1,532,281, with some changes within the funds.
Two of those funds, the police and fire pension funds, are determined by actuarial information and set by the state. Zook said that together, the two funds decreased by $14,000, which allowed the city to increase the other funds by $14,000 for a net zero change.
Zook also reminded the council that the tax rate is determined by the EAV (equalized assessed valuation), which has not been released yet, but is expected to be similar to last year. If that is true, then the city can expect no change to its real estate tax rate.
Mayor Dougherty said that this is the ninth year that the city has produced a tax levy without heavy increases. He added that it will be tough to recover from the pandemic, but this levy is a good start.
The meeting would adjourn at 6:48 p.m. The council will meet again on Dec. 17, at Corwin Hall and virtually by Zoom.