During public participation, Rockford IceHogs owner Dr. Kris Tumilowicz said he and co-owner Craig Drecktrah do not wish to sell their team to the MetroCentre. He added if they must sell, they deserve a fair market price for the team. The owners would prefer to be granted a new five-year lease with a five-year option. Tumilowicz warned the financial risk of owning and operating a sports franchise should not be assumed by the taxpayers. Tumilowicz requested the $3 million for the acquisition of an American Hockey League (AHL) franchise be removed from the $20 million MetroCentre renovation resolution, arguing they are two separate issues.
IceHogs co-owner Craig Drecktrah also addressed the council during public participation. Drecktrah blasted the MetroCentre Authoritys negotiating tactics, adding the Authority cant stand on its own feet without a $912,000 annual subsidy from the city. Drecktrah announced the IceHogs are not for sale.
Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) introduced Julia Scott-Valdez as the new assistant city administrator.
Mayor Morrissey noted upcoming budget meetings, scheduled for Jan. 13 and 20.
The Rockford Area Economic Development Council was granted a $50,000 raise in addition to its current budget of $200,000. Ald. Linda McNeely (D-13), who cast the sole vote against the increase, argued her ward has seen no new jobs.
Tenth Ward Ald. Frank Beach (R) made a motion to amend the Planning and Development Committees report regarding the recommendation to authorize $23 million in alternative revenue bonds for the MetroCentre. He expressed concern about the operations gap left by directing the citys $912,000 MetroCentre operations subsidy toward bond repayment. Beach argued only $20 million should be recommended for authorization at this time. The amendment failed with only Beach, McNeely and Jeff Holt (D-11) voting in favor.
The original committee report, recommending the authorization of $23 million in bonds, prevailed with Beach and McNeely casting the only nays.
Ald. Victory Bells (D-5) motion to adopt a Planning and Development Committee report prevailed. The report recommends approval of the intergovernmental agreement among the city, county and MetroCentre. McNeely voted no.
Postini, Inc. of San Carlos, Calif. was awarded a contract in the amount of $11,920 for e-mail services. McNeely voted against adopting the recommendation.
Ald. Bell read in ordinances to approve the intergovernmental agreement and to authorize the issuance of up to $23 million in General Obligation Bonds for MetroCentre improvements and the purchase of a hockey franchise. Bell moved to suspend the rules and put them up for vote. Because a super-majority of 10 is required to suspend the rules, Beach, Holt and McNeely had enough votes to lay the matter over.
Aldermen Dan Conness (D-14), Ann Thompson (D-7) and Carl Wasco (D-4) were absent.
Finance Director Andres Sammul presented the proposed $240 million 2007 budget. The proposal maintains current service levels and a balanced $107.1 million General Fund. The budget also touts a stable property tax rate and $58.9 million in capital improvements.
From the Jan. 3-9, 2007, issue