During the June 11 Rockford City Council meeting, Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) announced Public Works Director Bill Bittner would no longer head the department.
Bittner, who has been director since 1998, was on the agenda for re-appointment the same evening his departure was made public. As a result, re-appointments for department heads were held out until the June 18 meeting.
Several sources report more shake-ups are in store for various city departments.
Replacing Bittner is Tim Hanson, who was welcomed by Mayor Morrissey during the March 26 City Council meeting. Hanson has been serving as operations manager in the Public Works Department before his appointment to acting director. Prior to his job in the public sector, Hanson was a division manager for UPS, where he worked for 28 years.
Morrissey is undecided as to whether Hanson will stay on as director permanently, or if a new department head will be sought.
Because Bittner was instrumental in developing the $75 million water system modernization program that is under way, Morrissey would like to work a deal to keep him around on an interim basis.
Its our hope that we will continue to be able to work with Bill Bittner and use his leadership in developing a vision and plan for our new and improved water system, Morrissey reported.
Although the official press release stated Bittner is stepping down, Morrissey hinted the move was the result of efforts to streamline Public Works. Although further reorganization is likely within the department, Morrissey said no layoffs are planned.
Morrissey said hell be reviewing the departments organizational structure and operating procedures to make sure theyre inline with the citys new RockStat system.
RockStat is a computer-based management system aimed at increasing accountability, productivity and customer service. Morrissey expects to release a public report about the first few months of RockStat in July.
Were simply trying to make sure that weve got a structure thats supportive of us achieving our goals, Morrissey explained, and [that] we have the right people in the right place to make sure that structure is functioning.
Over the winter, Bittner frequently came under fire for the poor performance of snow removal crews.
$95 to paint a fire hydrant?
Committee reports passed
The council passed a Finance and Personnel Committee report recommending a bid for fire hydrant painting be awarded to Davies Water Equipment Co., of Appleton, Wis., in the amount of $47,500. While the bid was in committee earlier in the evening, Aldermen Bill Timm (R-9) and Lenny Jacobson (D-6) were apprehensive.
Timm noted a preference to having a local company perform the work. Davies, however, was the only firm to return a bid in response to the 11 requests sent out. The contract is to sandblast and repaint approximately 500 city hydrants. At an average price of $95 per hydrant, Jacobson couldnt go along with the idea, and voted against it in committee.
Aldermen also approved a report recommending a $75,000 settlement be made in the personal injury case of Bonita and William Bowen, with a release to be obtained.
Aldermen then approved a report recommending the award of an $83,300 bid to Rockford-based TCI Concrete for citywide inlet repair, funded by street and sewer operating budgets. TCI was the lowest of three bidders.
A report recommending the Public Works Department be authorized to enter into an agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Rockford Area Transportation Study (RATS) was approved. The intergovernmental agreement establishes the Public Works Department as the lead agency for RATS between July 1, 2007, and June 30, 2008. The City of Rockford will put up $634,980 toward the RATS planning process. Eighty percent of the citys share of funding will be reimbursed by IDOT.
The City Council approved an ordinance recommending approval of a collective bargaining agreement between the City of Rockford, the Rockford Public Library and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The agreement is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2007, effective through Dec. 31, 2009.
Retails role in rebuilding Rockford
Doc Slafkosky, co-owner of J.R. Kortman Center for Design and founder of the Downtown Retailers Collective, addressed the City Council during public participation. Slafkosky thanked the mayor and aldermen for passing the On the Waterfront open-seal ordinance and for giving voters the opportunity to pass the April 17 sales tax referendum.
Slafkosky praised the Morrissey administration for nurturing retail development downtown and said such development will benefit the entire city.
Now, retail is kind of the hand that feeds us, Slafkosky noted. Whats good for retail is good for Rockford.
Cathy Ward, Yvonne Alexander and Kim Ellingson were appointed to one-year terms on the Human Services Community Action Agency (CAA) Board, expiring May 2008. Saul Serna, a real estate agent for Century 21, was appointed to a three-year term, expiring May 2010, on the same board.
Ward is chairman of the Boone County Board, sits on the Workforce Investment Board and is part of the Rockford Area Transportation Study (RATS). Ellingson serves as the mayors assistant for neighborhood development, and Alexander is employed by Milestone, Inc.
The CAA is a group of private and public non-profits aimed at alleviating poverty.
Mayor Morrissey proclaimed the week of June 11 to be American Cancer Society Relay for Life Week in Rockford, urging citizens to support the American Cancer Society and to participate in the all-night Relay for Life event beginning the evening of June 15 at Rockford First Assembly Church/Christian Life High School.
The week of June 11 was also proclaimed Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Week in Rockford. The torch run, to raise money for Special Olympics, is a 23-leg route run by about 3,000 law enforcement officers from hundreds of municipalities throughout the state. The Rockford Police Department has participated since 1986. Stateline area torch runs will be held June 12-15.
from the June 13-19, 2007, issue