AFSCME, city extend contracts by one year

November 11, 2009

News and notes from the Nov. 9 Rockford City Council meeting

By Stuart R. Wahlin

Staff Writer

The Rockford City Council unanimously approved the extension of existing collective bargaining agreements with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) locals 1058 and 1058B Nov. 9. The contracts were to expire Dec. 31, but will now be extended through 2010.

AFSCME represents nearly 300 city employees, and the union ratified the one-year pay freeze late last month. In exchange, the city agreed not to increase insurance costs for the employees.

Also last month, the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 413 agreed to a two-year wage freeze to avert layoffs, which will also help the city get a handle on a projected general fund deficit approaching $8 million for 2010.

Although the wage freezes bring the council two steps closer to balancing the city’s budget, a deal has yet to be finalized with the Police Benevolent & Protective Association Unit 6, whose contract expired at the end of 2008.

Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) said: “We’ve now had successful approval of our contracts with our firefighters and our AFSCME employees. I want to thank them for their cooperation through a very tough time. Their work is gonna help us save jobs and get us through a tough economy. Also, I’m hopeful that it won’t be long before we’ll have the same with our police officers.”

Ordinances

Aldermen gave final approval for an amendment to the Springfield Corners Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District redevelopment plan and project.

Community Development Director Reid Montgomery indicated the Springfield Corners TIF District began north of School Street in 2002 with a shopping center and a residential neighborhood. The amendment will expand the plan and project to include an additional 50 acres for Spring Creek Development’s ambitious Renaissance Corners project on West State Street, between Pierpont and Springfield avenues.

“Amending the plan allows money generated through the TIF to be used reimbursing eligible expenses for the planned mixed-use development,” Montgomery explained. “The amending action does not change the boundaries of the existing TIF, or increase the city’s financial obligation to incentivize the development.”

In total, the city has pledged $5,438,937 toward the $65 million development.

Aldermen Nancy Johnson (D-8), Bill Timm (R-9) and Bill Robertson (I-14) voted “no.”

The council also approved an honorary street name change for Spring Creek Road, between Shaw Woods Drive and Mulford Road, to Sgt. Blake W. Evans Road. Evans was killed in 2008 while serving in Iraq.

Committee reports passed

Recommending acceptance of levies in the amount of $48,043,800 for the general, sanitation, tuberculosis sanitarium, library operations, library maintenance, Illinois municipal retirement, unemployment compensation, worker’s compensation and auditing funds. Ald. Linda McNeely (D-13) voted “no.”

Recommending an increased 2009 tax levy for streets and bridges, from .06 percent to .1 percent of the equalized or assessed property value. Ald. McNeely voted “no.”

Recommending the sales of properties at 728 Kilburn Ave., 926 Maple St., 719 Lee St., 914 Maple St. and the southeast corner of Maple and Lee streets for $900, $800, $325, $325 and $475, respectively. The sole bidder was non-profit Community Kitchen, Inc.

Proclamations and award

The week of Nov. 15 was proclaimed Homelessness Awareness Week.

Nov. 9 was proclaimed Food for the Needy Kickoff Day in recognition of the Salvation Army’s annual holiday food drive.

Nov. 9 was also proclaimed the Rev. Dr. J. Michael Solberg Day. In September, Solberg swam across the English Channel to raise money to build a school in Angola.

The Illinois Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA) presented the Kishwaukee corridor revitalization plan team with the APA’s Community Outreach Award. The Kishwaukee plan, chosen from dozens of nominations, was awarded the honor “in recognition of how our community utilized the planning process to address needs that went beyond the traditional scope of planning,” according to a city press release.

Moment of silence

With Veterans’ Day approaching, and in the wake of a shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, that left 13 dead, the council observed a moment of silence.

Absence

Ald. Carl Wasco (D-4) was absent.

From the November 11-17, 2009 issue

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