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Litchfield to approve finances for next year at Dec. 15 meeting

LITCHFIELD -- Mayor Vern Madson said the City Council's public hearing Monday for the 2009 city budget and levy went unattended by the public.

Madson said in an interview Wednesday that "nobody showed up" for the public hearing as the City Council prepares to approve a proposed $2.16 million levy and a $16 million budget during its Dec. 15 meeting.

According to Tribune archives, the proposed $2,162,760 levy is $11,461 less than the 2008 levy, a vast change from the $159,947 increase from 2007 to 2008.

Conversely, Litchfield's proposed budget jumped from $11,246,362 in 2008 to $12,846,501 in 2009 because of construction of the new electric generation plant in Litchfield, according to an e-mail from City Administrator Bruce Miller. The city broke ground on the project in July.

Miller indicated that most of the budget increase was due to the debt payments on the project. Litchfield is using bonds to finance the construction of the new electric generation plant. Despite the budget increase, Madson said the city's tax rate will also decrease from 58.10 percent to 55.44 percent in 2009. Last year, the city's tax rate also decreased 0.25 percent from 2007.

In other business, Madson said the City Council generated a list of questions regarding the city's proposed heritage preservation ordinance. The ordinance pertains to Litchfield's Historic Preservation Commission that is guiding the pursuit for Certified Local Government status of the city's historic downtown business district.

Certified Local Government status is a program that assists local governments preserving neighborhoods or historic building districts by attracting federal grants from State Historic Preservation Offices. The program is offered by the National Park Service.

Madson said many questions about the proposed ordinance were mentioned by the City Council. He said answering all questions concerning the proposed ordinance is important because the passed law will stipulate how the commission can organize and oversee the city's Certified Local Government for the downtown buildings.

Madson said the City Council should have answers to its questions and decide on the ordinance during the Dec. 15 regular meeting.