Litchfield City Council approved four resolutions Monday, setting the city’s budget for 2020.
The budget reflects the administration’s usual approach, according to Administrator David Cziok, who laid out the mantra on the cover of the 2020 budget book: “Conservative and consistent budgets allow us to serve the community effectively and predictably.”
The budget calls for a total property tax levy of $2,832,500, a 5.7 percent increase over 2019.
The City Council approved earlier this year a 6 percent levy increase. However, residential property values increased more than anticipated, meaning the tax rate would not need to increase as much.
The average home in Litchfield, with a $130,000 value, would see less than a $2 increase in taxes for 2020 given the tax rate. However, because most residential property values increased in 2019, most will pay more in tax.
The city’s budget is divided into nine funds, ranging from the electric fund with revenues and expenditures of $10,770,869 to the general fund ($5,796,320) to the cemetery fund ($78,200).
“2020 is pretty reflective … much more typical of what we see” in terms of budgets, Cziok said. “What we’ve provided you is what it takes to run the operation and nothing more.”
Cziok lauded city staff for managing costs and expenditures based not on what a budget indicates can be spent, but on actual need.
Fund balances are expected to grow somewhat in 2020 as revenue collection increases more than expenditures, and contingencies are included in each fund.
Cziok also briefly reviewed some of the intricacies of the budget, which he said included more than 1,000 lines of items.
“There’s a lot of stuff going on here,” Cziok said.
Among the “stuff” is a line item for snow removal at $46,000 that doesn’t include human resources costs but does include the costs of sand, salt, maintenance and some equipment, with a cost-per-resident of $4.26, he said.
Other line items cover playgrounds and fields at $35,600 and a cost-per-resident of $3.28, boulevard trees for $42,000 and less than $4 per resident.
Wages will rise 2.5 percent in 2020 — the largest impact to most of the city’s operational budgets — and health care costs are budgeted to fall slightly, Cziok said.