Council hears report on ways to cut deficit
Members of the National Resource Network (NRN) last week presented a detailed set of recommendations to the Rockford City Council designed to help the City close a projected seven-year budget deficit of $81 million.
The City’s 2018 general fund operating budget is approximately $140 million. In its report, NRN noted that with no action the City would effectively run out of money in 2023.
NRN does not advise that the City implement all recommendations simultaneously, nor does NRN assert that the City must adopt all of the recommendations.
The plan provides the means to fix the structural deficit while identifying resources for re-investment. The initiatives are data-driven and based on benchmark research, best practices, and are sensitive to Rockford’s unique circumstances. Many initiatives would bring Rockford’s service delivery and revenue structure in line with those of other Illinois cities.
The City of Rockford has faced budget challenges since the economic downturn following 9/11, and made worse by the Great Recession of 2008, which resulted in decreased property values and widespread job losses.
The decline in the City’s equalized assessed value, development of retail in surrounding communities, and high unemployment led to decreased City revenue needed to provide basic services such as police, fire and public works.
Among the recommendations:
- Hire civilians for Rockford Police Department positions that do not require sworn officers.
- Bring police and fire staffing more in line with the city’s population
- Evaluate fire station locations and study a potential station closure.
- Increase employee contributions to health insurance costs.
- Consider selling the City’s water system or consider a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT), which would represent the taxes a water utility would pay the City if it were a private entity.
- Evaluate property assessment practices to ensure Rockford’s equalized assessed value is in line with comparable communities.
- Conduct a comprehensive review of City fees and fines, which considers the cost of personnel, service levels and comparable rates.
- Explore market-based revenue opportunities, such as advertising and naming rights, to generate additional revenue.
Park District hosts free Golf Extravaganza
Rockford Park District invites current and future golf enthusiasts to the free golf open house Winter Golf Extravaganza, Sunday, Oct. 21, from 5-8 p.m. at the Indoor Sports Center at Mercyhealth Sportscore Two, 8800 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park. All ages are welcome to attend.
Information will be available about the Park District’s Winter Golf Academy indoor lessons for youth and adults at the ISC from November, 2018 through February, 2019. Additional event activities will include free golf lessons from PGA/LPGA instructors (ongoing during event hours), Golfzilla, Snag Golf, as well as games and prizes.
Registrations for Park District golf programs will be taken on site; registration is also available online, and at Park District Customer Service locations: UW Health Sports Factory in downtown Rockford, and Carlson Ice Arena and Mercyhealth Sportscore Two in Loves Park.
It’s Pumpkin Festival time again in Sycamore
The 57th annual Sycamore Pumpkin Festival will be held Oct. 24-Oct.28. The city’s biggest event will start with opening ceremonies and cake-cutting Oct. 24.
Trick-or-Treating will be held downtown from 4:30-6 p.m. Oct. 24. Then the Pumpkin Festival, with its theme, a Pumpkin Carnival, will open with more than 1,000 entries in the Lions Decorated Pumpkin Display, and will also have two carnivals, two large indoor craft shows and many non-profit vendors.
Festivities will culminate with a pa rade Oct. 28. The parade will kick off at 1 p.m. at Somonauk Street and Borden Avenue, and end about 90 minutes later at Lincoln and Locus streets. Parade entries will be judged for honors based on theme continuity, originality, general appearance and complexity.
Earlier that day, the Sycamore Pumpkin Run, a USATF certified 10K race, will start on east State Street in front of the Sycamore Armory.
Halloween activities will continue to Oct. 29. For more information, visit sycamorepumpkinfestival.com.
JFK’s speech in DeKalb topic of presentation
On Oct. 25, 1959, the then-U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy spoke to a packed
house at the Egyptian Theatre. A recording of the speech has been found and will be played during a program marking the 59th anniversary of the speech.
Following the playing of the speech, historian Jim Gibbons will present a program about the life of the 35th president of the United States at 7 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Egyptian, 135 N. Second St., DeKalb.
Gibbons, a Marengo resident and historian, has made a name for himself teaching the importance of history. He has been researching history and historical figures since he was in college. Using his passion for and knowledge of history, Gibbons gives presentations on historical events and figures at schools, colleges, libraries and other venues.
–Winnebago County News Briefs–