By Stuart R. Wahlin
Republican Wendy Owano was appointed Sept. 3 to fill the unexpired term of Pete MacKay (R-5), who retired at the end of July.
Owano is a former Cherry Valley Township trustee and a long-time Republican precinct committeeman.
This year, Owano ran against Cherry Valley Township Supervisor Randy Sturm (I), a former Republican County Board member who also asked to be considered for the appointment to replace MacKay. She lost to Sturm by 20 votes.
Owano also lost to Sturm in the 2006 GOP Primary for the second District 5 seat eventually won by Democrat Paul Gorski.
In 2005, Owano lost to Independent Danielle Rumple for the office of Cherry Valley Township assessor.
Owano has contributed $1,173.50 to the Winnebago County Republican Central Committee, for which she serves as secretary.
In a voice vote to approve the appointment, the only audible “no” heard in the gallery came from Gorski, who later reported Bob Kinnison (R-10) told him he’d also voted “no.”
Kinnison confirmed he supported Sturm as the most qualified candidate.
Others to apply for the appointment included Eugene Bolek, Jake Henry, Kevin Horstman and David Kelly.
Winnebago County Housing Authority secures $2.3 million grant
Board member Fred Wescott (R-9), also chairman of the Winnebago County Housing Authority Board, received word Sept. 3 the Authority would receive a $2.3 million federal stimulus grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to renovate the 150-unit Collier Gardens senior apartments on Searles Avenue.
Wescott noted Winnebago County was one of only 15 in the country to receive the award.
“It’s humbling to see this come to us,” he said, noting competition from cities like Indianapolis, Chicago and New York City. “And here, little bitty Winnebago County Housing Authority in Rockford, Ill., is one.”
Angie Goral (D-7) applauded the achievement.
“I think it’s just wonderful that we continue to get these grants for the Winnebago County Housing Authority,” she responded. “It shows that they’re doing it right, and they’re using the money where it belongs, and to the best advantage, and they’re not just throwing it away.”
Forest preserve tax to decrease
The Forest Preserve District’s 2010 proposed budget was introduced and laid over until the Sept. 24 meeting.
According to Forest Preserve Executive Committee Chairman Bob Kinnison (R-10), the balanced budget comes in at a lower tax rate than this fiscal year, which concludes at the end of the month.
The owner of a $150,000 home can expect to pay $42.70 for forest preserve services and facilities, Kinnison said. “That’s 25 cents less than last year.”
Board members unanimously agreed to abate property taxes for Absolute Fire Protection, Inc., which has outgrown its facility at 6822 Forest Hills Road in Loves Park. The company plans to invest $425,000 for a new home in Rockford’s Eastrock Industrial Park, 5729 28th Ave.
The building was owned by the non-profit Rosecrance Health Network, and was therefore tax-exempt. But John Ekberg (R-10) noted the property will soon be back on the tax roll.
“We’re going to abate some taxes, but ultimately, we’re gonna get a lot more,” Ekberg asserted.
In addition to retaining 14 “really high-paying jobs,” Ekberg noted, eight new full-time positions would be created by 2014.
The five-year abatement of property taxes will be 80 percent from taxes payable in 2010 for three-and-a-half months of 2009, 8 percent for 2011, 60 percent for 2012, 40 percent for 2013 and 20 percent for 2014.
The board also approved a resolution requiring presentation of a document supporting the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) whenever the county is approached by companies for economic incentives.
The bipartisan resolution was introduced by Rick Pollack (R-13) and L.C. Wilson (D-12).
“Essentially, in 1974, the draft was ended, and in order to continue our national defense, reliance is based on reserve units and National Guard units from each of the states,” Pollack explained. “What people don’t realize is, probably about 50 percent of the fighting force over in Iraq and Afghanistan is either National Guard units, or reserves.
“Something replaced the draft. And essentially, if you really think about it, the National Guard unit has been drafted,” he added. “They’re starting to return now to this economy, and there’s an obligation that, based on their seniority, that the companies would have to hold their jobs open.”
The measure does not require compliance to receive incentives, however.
The voluntary resolution states that “no adverse action shall be taken against applicants for economic incentives who fail or refuse to sign the document.”
Another resolution, introduced by Pearl Hawks (D-6), aims to encourage the county board chairman to consider racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of an existing board or commission before appointing new members.
The Rockford City Council passed a similar resolution Aug. 31.
The Hawks resolution was referred to the Executive Committee for consideration.
Other resolutions passed:
• Determining $36,388,588 as the amount estimated to be necessary to be raised by property taxes for 2009. Individual tax levies for the new fiscal year were laid over until the Sept. 24 meeting.
• Approving an Illinois Public Works Mutual Aid Network (IPWMAN) agreement. The county pays $500 annually for participation in the program, which assures help from other Illinois communities in times of disaster.
Karen Hoffman (D-11) and Dave Yeske (R-2) were absent.
From the September 9-15, 2009 issue