Aldermen approve ‘one-stop record-keeping,’ but at what cost?

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-117873032213221.jpg’, ‘Photo by Stuart R. Wahlin’, ‘Accounting for more than three-quarters of the budget, Police and Fire are likely to feel the effects of $1 million in cuts.‘);

The Rockford City Council committed $200,000 in 2008 to a development agreement with the non-profit Community Collaboration, Inc., for a new Web-based software system designed to bring local non-profits together in a virtual records room.

The new Collaborative Case Management software program is designed to synergize record-keeping among various social service agencies throughout the area. The system will assist in tracking clients and help eliminate overlapping of services.

Ald. Victory Bell (D-5) stated, “We feel that this is a good project that is consolidating all the different data.”

The Winnebago County Board allocated $288,800 to the new system April 26. County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen (R) said the program could save the community millions of dollars through improved efficiency.

Northern Illinois University has partnered with the City of Rockford and Winnebago County to pay for development of the program. Social service agencies will be charged an annual licensing fee to participate. About half of Winnebago County’s alternative programs are in-house and will automatically be brought on board. County Board member, and chairman of the Public Safety Committee, Rick Pollack (R-13) said his committee, along with Chairman Christiansen’s office, have been discussing mandating participation for all other agencies applying for grants from the county. Grant funding for the county’s alternative programs will run out in four months.

While aldermen committed to paying the $50,000 initial payment, it is not yet certain what cuts to the city’s general fund will need to be made on or before Jan. 1, 2008, when that payment is due.

The remaining $150,000 for the software is due upon delivery of the software within the next year.

Explaining the significance of allowing until the beginning of the new year to make the down payment, Ald. Jeff Holt (D-11), who is on the Planning and Development Committee, said, “The intention of the committee was that we should know where the million dollars in cuts [to the general fund] in ’07 are coming from before we spend the $50,000.”

Aldermen voted March 19 to cut $1 million from the city’s $107 million general fund for 2007 to switch over those funds to much-needed neighborhood street improvements. What will be cut to make up for the transfer from the general fund is undetermined.

The additional million dollars for neighborhood streets equates to more than $71,000 for each of Rockford’s 14 wards, bringing the city’s 2007 total to $3.4 million for resurfacing in residential areas.

The remaining $150,000 balance for the new software system is not payable until the $1 million system is completed and operational next year. Agencies will pay a fee to access the database, and non-profit Community Collaboration, Inc., is expected to be self-sufficient within three years.

Aldermen are leaving it up to the mayor and staff to decide where the cuts will be made. Because Police and Fire make up more than three-quarters of the budget, safety services are likely to feel the pinch.

from the May 2-8, 2007, issue

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