Temperatures not the only freeze in Rockford

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11714987729210.jpg’, ‘Photo by Stuart R. Wahlin’, ‘Ald. Joe Sosnowski (R-1) sponsored the 60-day hiring freeze.‘);

The Rockford City Council adopted a resolution for a 60-day hiring freeze Feb. 12. The issue has been discussed in Finance and Personnel Committee meetings for weeks.

In committee, Ald. Lenny Jacobson (D-6) expressed, “I would hate to see us not be at full speed with police and fire.”

“It excludes police and fire,” sponsor Ald. Joe Sosnowski (R-1) assured, “so for those positions that are still open, we can fill our emergency response needs.”

Sosnowski wants 16 current job openings to remain vacant until aldermen have a clearer picture of the city’s 2007 spending plan.

Department heads, however, may ask aldermen to make exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

“Hopefully, most department heads can hold off,” Sosnowski urged, “’til we finish up the budget.”

Rockford Legal Director Patrick Hayes noted the hiring freeze would be precluded should the budget be approved before the end of the 60 days.

“So, if you pass the. … position in the budget,” Hayes said, “then this hiring freeze isn’t gonna prohibit it being done…This will be trumped by any future budget that passes Council.”

“At that point then, after we’ve evaluated the budget, Council can act to decide to extend that, or not,” Sosnowski explained. “We can then evaluate it for the two-month period before we make a year-long decision.”

If Rockford’s 16 current job openings remain unfilled for the rest of the year, the city would save about half a million dollars.

In other council news, the Codes and Regulations Committee is considering an ordinance to require closer monitoring of metal scrapping.

The move comes in reaction to increasing copper thefts throughout the city in recent months. The ordinance would require licensed scrap-buyers to keep better records of whom they’re buying from.

Photocopies of valid Illinois ID would be mandatory, and the committee is considering also requiring the license plate number of scrap sellers be recorded.

Violators would be subject to a $750 fine per occurrence and may face licensing sanctions for up to three years.

City staff have already been in contact with every licensed scrap dealer in Rockford, and are working with other area municipalities to prevent thieves from simply unloading their booty in the next town over.

The Planning and Development Committee was busy hammering out the details of a development agreement with Anderson Packaging, Inc., in the relatively new trade park Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District Number One. The boundaries for that district, also known as the Global TradePark TIF, encompasses the area between Route U.S. 251 and the Rock River, beginning just south of Bypass U.S. 20 and extending to the Rockford city limits on the southern boundary.

The city would pitch in $1.1 million to Anderson’s $7.5 million expansion. In addition, Anderson would put up $250,000 for training new employees.

Anderson would agree to fill and maintain at least 150 new jobs within five years. Should the numbers slip below 150, Anderson would pay the city $7,333 per job.

Anderson Human Resources Vice President Jim Peterson said the new jobs will include everything from office staff to production, direct and skilled labor.

From the Feb. 14-20, 2007, issue

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