Feb. 5 Rockford City Council briefs

Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) thanked aldermen for supporting the 1 percentage point sales tax increase the City Council approved Jan. 29 for placement on the April 17 ballot. If voters approve the referendum, Morrissey said debt would be reduced, resulting in a 24-cent drop from the current city property tax levy by 2012.

“I think we have a lot of work to do now, as a council, to make sure that ballot initiative is well-understood by our community,” Morrissey said, “so that they understand this is about Rockford’s future, it’s about investment in the capital infrastructure that will help grow our community and grow our economy.”

The mayor commented about the frigid temperatures and reminded citizens of the eight warming centers available. For information, call the Human Services Department at (815) 987-5685.

Mayor Morrissey announced City Hall will be closed Feb. 19 in observance of Presidents Day. That week, the City Council will meet Feb. 20.

The mayor urged aldermen to keep fellow council member Linda McNeely’s (D-13) family in their thoughts as they mourn the passing of her uncle.

Ald. Victory Bell (D-5) noted the historic swearing in of K. Patrick Yarbrough as an associate judge in the 17th Judicial Circuit earlier in the day. Yarbrough is the first African-American to sit on the bench in Winnebago County.

The Rockford City Council voted unanimously to abolish the city’s vehicle sticker law, effective Jan. 1, 2008. Morrissey called the vote a “momentous occasion.” 2007 vehicle stickers, commemorating Cheap Trick’s Rockford album, went on sale Feb. 1.

The West State/Kilburn Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district was created, with the exclusion of the Rockford Rescue Mission property.

Aldermen voted to extend the Redevelopment Tax by 10 years to ensure the city’s annual $912,000 subsidy to the MetroCentre will continue through 2028. Under the MetroCentre’s renovation plan, the city’s annual payment will go toward paying bonds for the next 20 years. The subsidy has previously been used to fund arena operations.

Hitchcock Design Group of Naperville was awarded an engineering agreement for Riverwalk design in the amount of $45,000 plus direct expenses. Funding comes from the proposed 2007 Capital Improvements Plan (CIP). Aldermen Ann Thompson-Kelly (D-7), Nancy Johnson (D-8) and Jeff Holt (D-11) voted no.

Aldermen approved an ordinance regarding “visitability” of new homes constructed with public funds. The zero-step entrances will be encouraged in new homes whenever feasible.

“The term ‘visitablilty’ is defined to be that it’s a home that would allow somebody who had a mobility impairment to visit that home,” Ald. John Beck (R-12) explained. “It’s also very beneficial to somebody who’s gonna be purchasing a home and is gonna be aging in that home.”

From the Feb. 7-13, 2007, issue

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