District 205 to bolster police presence

December 16, 2009

News and notes from the Dec. 14 Rockford City Council meeting

By Stuart R. Wahlin

Staff Writer

The Rockford City Council approved an intergovernmental agreement Dec. 14 with Rockford Public School District 205 for additional city police services in its schools after several recent incidents involving violence and deadly weapons in the schools.

Until now, the Rockford Police Department has provided eight patrol officers and one sergeant, for which the school district fully reimburses the city. Per the new agreement, three more officers will be added, at the request of Dr. LaVonne Sheffield, superintendent of schools.

“We are continuing to work closely with Dr. Sheffield and the rest of the district, and ensuring that our schools are absolutely safe, and as safe as they can be, given all the circumstances that we deal with on a day-to-day basis,” said Mayor Larry Morrissey (I).

“It’s unacceptable to see the type of conduct engaged in by some of the students in our district,” the mayor added.

City urges state to fund capital plan, postpone UL300 compliance deadline

Aldermen adopted a resolution urging Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) “to formally identify a funding source for the implementation of the state capital construction program, and engage the Illinois legislature in support of such a funding source” in the name of job creation.

Ald. Doug Mark (R-3), who presented the measure, noted the state hasn’t had a capital plan in nearly 11 years, which has kept a number of local projects on hold. Although a capital plan was passed this year, Mark argued the governor has yet to fund the plan’s implementation.

“These communities,” he explained, “need to have jobs, need to have these projects moving forward, to help our communities at a time when, A, they need to be helped, and B, we need to get the projects done. The governor needs to move that forward. We need to ask him to do that.”

A second resolution passed by the council requests that the state fire marshal and Gov. Quinn extend a compliance deadline for fire suppression upgrades for commercial kitchens using cooking oils from Jan. 1, 2010, to Jan. 1, 2011.

The new UL300 standard set by Underwriters Laboratories requires that dry chemical fire protection systems be replaced with new liquid-based smothering chemical systems, but the necessary upgrades may cost establishments tens of thousands of dollars each.

The administrative code, however, doesn’t require government facilities to comply until 2011, and aldermen agreed that churches, clubs, restaurants and bars ought to be afforded the same courtesy during difficult financial times.

“In this economic time, these people cannot afford that kind of money just for systems,” Ald. Lenny Jacobson (D-6) asserted, suggesting that other local municipalities follow suit with similar resolutions.

Ald. Pat Curran (R-2) exclaimed, “This is the most asinine, stupid regulation, and it’s absolutely no wonder, in my mind, why people distrust government and get frustrated with it.”

Council signs off on county’s

purchase of federal courthouse

Following a brief public hearing, aldermen approved agreements with Winnebago County and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) related to the county’s $2 million purchase of the federal courthouse at 211 S. Court St. (See “Board agrees to purchase federal courthouse, fund alternative programs” in this issue).

Ordinances

Approving a development agreement with James Diesing and Shirley Jean Dunkin, whereby the city will extend public sewer to the developers’ land in the Southeast Affordable Housing Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District. The cost to the city is estimated to be $30,000. In exchange, the developers agree to remove a modular home from their property along North Second Street, and to deed the land to the city.

Confirming the sale, and providing for the issuance, of $13,585,000 in general obligation refunding bonds.

Amending the city’s compensation ordinance related to retirement benefits for non-union employees to reflect changes to the 2010 early retirement plan.

Committee reports

Awarding painting services contracts to ADV Enterprises, Ladd Companies and JEM Company. Ald. Venita Hervey (D-5) voted “no.”

Approving a $157,000 task order with McMahon Associates, Inc., and a $77,370 task order for Strand Associates, Inc., for design and bidding document preparation related to radium removal at Well 10.

Approving a $152,007.21 design engineering and construction inspection agreement with McClure Engineering Associates, Inc., for federal stimulus projects on Alpine Road, West State Street and Central Avenue. McClure was also awarded a similar $91,367 agreement for work related to a stimulus project on Longwood Street.

Approving a Head Start program grant application.

Approving a collective bargaining agreement between the city, the Rockford Public Library and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31.

Recommending that a portion of the funds for a construction management training program be used for pre-apprenticeship training.

Firefighters, citizens

‘filled the boot’ for MDA

Rockford firefighters were recognized by the Muscular Dystrophy Association for their efforts to collect donations for the local MDA. In their best year ever for the annual drive, firefighters raised $33,882.

Closed session

Council members convened in closed session to discuss negotiations related to litigation in the case of Palka Trucking v. the City of Rockford.

Dec. 11, Rockford’s snow removal contract with Rabine Paving was nullified in court after a judge ruled the city’s snowplowing bid process was questionable.

As a result, Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) indicated the city will review its other bid specifications as well.

“We may need to update some of the contract elements,” he acknowledged. “So, we’ll be going through some work, making sure that all of our contract documents are consistent with where we are and what we need to do as an organization, and bringing those to relevant and updated bid specifications.”

Palka’s submitted bid was $3-per-hour-per-truck less than Rabine’s, but the contract will not automatically be awarded to Palka. Instead, the city is expected to request new bids for the contract in coming weeks.

Absences

Aldermen Joe Sosnowski (R-1) and Linda McNeely (D-13) were absent.

From the Dec. 16-22, 2009 issue

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