May 21 Rockford City Council briefs

Since the successful passage of the 1 percentage point sales tax increase in April, city leaders have been trying to enact legislation that would allow the tax to be levied July 1, six months earlier than state law currently allows.

Proponents of the increase touted a five-year sunset clause. The wording of the referendum on the ballot, however, did not stipulate a five-year term. Only an end date —Dec. 31, 2012—was stated. Early collection of the tax would essentially have made the increase a five-and-a-half-year one, rather than the five years pledged during the campaign.

Because the sales tax is tied to a five-year Capital Improvements Plan, it is unclear what the estimated $8 million in additional funds would be used for.

While Senate Bill 1395, which would allow for the early collection, collects dust on the desk of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), aldermen unanimously approved a resolution to guarantee a five-year sunset clause as promised to voters, regardless of when the tax increase starts being collected.

Aldermen are also hopeful the move will increase the likelihood of the governor signing Senate Bill 1395 into law.

If approved, the bill will provide for Rockford to begin collecting the tax July 1 and get its hands on the tax revenues this October, instead of waiting until April 2008.

Other matters of note from the May 21 Rockford City Council meeting include:

Ald. Carl Wasco (D-4) presided over the Council in Mayor Larry Morrissey’s (I) absence. Morrissey was in Las Vegas attending the International Council of Shopping Centers convention. Aldermen Joe Sosnowski (R-1), Ann Thompson-Kelly (D-7), Dan Conness (D-14) and Lenny Jacobson (D-6) were also absent.

During public participation, John Weaver challenged the Council to take a more active role in combating crime. In reference to neighborhood associations, Weaver asked, “Do you attend their meetings in your elected areas, or do you just show up around election time?” Weaver continued, “What makes people think this body was elected to provide lip service only?” Weaver then invited the Council and community to take part in a march against criminal activity. The march started at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 600 N. Horsman St., at 4:30 p.m. on May 22. For more information, call 1-815-968-2205.

A committee report recommending Whitacre Construction and Excavating, Inc., be awarded a $3,294,500 bid for construction of the Stanley Street Pumping Station was passed. Construction is expected to begin in June and will include five vertical turbine pumps and new reservoirs will hold 5,000,000 gallons of water.

A committee report recommending Elmhurst-based Randall Industries be awarded a bid of $10,900 for a new club car carryall with ambulance kit was also passed. The vehicle is essentially a modified golf cart designed for events, such as On the Waterfront, where it would be difficult to safely navigate a full-scale ambulance through a crowded area.

With the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department moving into the new Justice Center, Ald. Nancy Johnson (D-8) requested information regarding what will be done with space being vacated in the Public Safety Building (PSB), including jail cells. City Administrator Jim Ryan promised Johnson a report on plans for the PSB.

Because of the Memorial Day holiday May 28, garbage collection will be delayed by one day.

Construction beginning May 23 will limit traffic to one southbound lane at Harrison Avenue and Alpine Road while a new water main is installed. The work is expected to be completed May 28.

Aldermen approved committee reports recommending bids be awarded to:

Advanced Public Safety, of Deerfield Beach, Fla., for Epson printers and accessories in the amount of $58,870.15.

PDC Laboratories, of Peoria, for water quality testing at a cost of $36,973.60.

Civil Constructors, of Freeport, in the amount of $382,730.30 for work on the Harrison Avenue water main.

ComPsych in the amount of $19,940 for counseling offered free to city employees and their families.

Center for Public Safety Excellence for a fire station feasibility study with an estimated cost of $36,419.

Rockford attorney Venita Hervey was re-appointed to a four-year term on the Rockford Mass Transit District Board.

Aldermen approved a name change for the newly-created Legislative Advisory and Lobbying Committee, which will now be called the Legislative Lobbying Committee. The committee consists of three aldermen from each caucus. Ald. Linda McNeely voted “no.”

The Council gave final approval to the 2007 River District Work Plan, which will be funded equally by the East and West Side Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts. Ald. McNeely voted “no.”

The week of May 21 was proclaimed Public Works Week in Rockford, and the public was asked to recognize the contributions of the Public Works Department.

The week of May 20 was proclaimed Emergency Medical Services Week in Rockford, in recognition of fire fighters and emergency medical personnel dedicated to the safety and well-being of Rockford citizens.

The week of May 21 was proclaimed to be “I Know I Can” College Awareness Week in Rockford. The public is urged to acknowledge the importance of higher education.

from May 23-29, 2007, issue

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