City Council begins review of proposed 2002 budget

City Council begins review of proposed 2002 budget


Members of the Rockford City Council Monday night have had their first look at the city’s proposed $177-million budget for 2002.

The proposed budget holds the line on the city’s property tax rate while adding new police and firefighters during what city officials describe as a “tight year.”

Elastic income, including sales tax revenue, is down an estimated $800,000, according to city officials. To avoid a deficit budget, $1.3 million will be taken from cash reserves.

Mayor Doug Scott said, “Through strong financial planning, the city has established a reserve to use as a rainy-day fund. We’re confident revenues will rebound as the economy bounces back. History has shown that each year there is a drop-off in sales tax and other revenues; they recover the following year.”

In order to balance the budget, the administration is also proposing that city departments defer new capital expenditures, a savings of $2.8 million.

The budget proposal includes the hiring of six new police officers to be placed in the public schools and nine new firefighters to place the new fifth ambulance on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Mayor Scott said, “We’re able to add needed services while still holding down taxes and addressing long-term financial concerns.”

The City Council is being asked to approve a $55 dollar increase in ambulance fees (from $300 to $355) and a $6 increase in the garbage collection fee (from $122.40 to $128.40 per year).

Voters in Rockford will be asked to approve an $8 million street referendum at the March 19 election. Approval of the referendum would raise the city’s tax rate by five cents and increase property taxes an estimated $16 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

Members of the City Council Finance and Personnel Committee have scheduled budget hearings during January and February. Final approval of the budget is required by the end of March.

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