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Aldermen to reconsider how to cover $9M in bonds
Posted By Brandon Reid On February 17, 2010 @ 2:08 pm In Happening Now | No Comments
• News and notes from the Feb. 16 Rockford City Council meeting
By Stuart R. Wahlin
Feb. 16, members of the Rockford City Council opted to reconsider a vote made during their Feb. 8 meeting that would back up to $9 million in bonds with proceeds from the 1-percentage-point sales tax approved by referendum in 2007. (See “Council narrowly approves plan to back bonds with sales tax” in the Feb. 10-16 issue).
The bond issuance is necessary to pay off a $10 line of credit used for the Keith Creek Flood Mitigation Program to acquire and demolish homes flooded in 2006 and 2007. In June, that note with Associated Bank comes due without the possibility of renewal.
The 2007 referendum, which has a five-year sunset clause, was to mark a shift in the way the city would fund its capital improvement program (CIP). That shift was intended to fund infrastructure improvements, including flood control, without further bond indebtedness.
The 7-6 vote Feb. 8 came after much debate regarding whether it was appropriate to allocate the CIP sales tax dollars for bond repayment, especially considering there’s no guarantee voters will renew the tax upon its expiration. The report narrowly passed, but aldermen concurred further discussion regarding the funding source would be required before the bonds are issued this spring.
Although aldermen agreed the mitigation project is a necessary commitment, some argued the 1-percentage-point sales tax is not intended for this purpose. Others retorted that storm-water and flood control issues were among the stated reasons for the sales tax increase.
The only alternative funding source identified thus far has been the general fund.
Although Finance Director Andres Sammul indicated Feb. 8 the funding source for bond repayment could be amended at any time, Ald. Carl Wasco (D-4) successfully moved for reconsideration of the vote from the previous meeting before laying the matter over for a week.
Meantime, aldermen will explore other funding options.
Aldermen want say in privatization talks
Ald. Bill Robertson (I-14) introduced a resolution, signed by all aldermen in attendance, requiring that “any new or existing group or committee that is assigned the task to develop, create data or argument that may be used to privatize or [outsource] any existing city services, jobs or functions must have a minimum of two aldermen—one from each caucus—assigned to it with full voting privileges, if needed or required by that group or committee structure.”
The resolution, which comes on the heels of discussion to outsource ambulance service, was laid over for one week.
• Authorizing an intergovernmental agreement with Winnebago County for operation and maintenance of traffic signals.
• Extending a contract to June 30 for the $295,601 sale of a 1.6-acre parcel at 1225 Charles St. to William Charles Real Estate Investments, LLC.
• Approving a $67,518.67 Mulberry Street design and construction engineering agreement with McClure Engineering Associates, Inc. The cost is payable through federal stimulus funds.
• Approving a $43,229.48 Landstrom Road design and construction engineering agreement with McClure Engineering. The cost is payable with federal stimulus dollars.
• Recommending a $13,234 sole-source contract with LeadsOnline for electronic reporting of merchandise taken in by pawn or other resale shops to law enforcement. The contract cost is payable through grant funds.
• Recommending MWH Americas, Inc., with offices in Chicago, be awarded a $25,000 contract to conduct a greenhouse gas emissions inventory. The cost is payable through federal stimulus funds.
• Expanding the boundaries of the Rockford Global Tradepark Industrial Project Area.
Aldermen convened in closed session to discuss collective bargaining negotiations.
Jim Buckingham cited numerous alleged code violations in the downtown apartment building from which he said he was wrongly evicted after notifying the Health Department of several issues.
“I have a place to go, but when I leave, my friends over there are gonna get screwed,” Buckingham said, referring to the alleged “slumlord.”
Buckingham asked for city assistance to assure laws are enforced at the building.
Ald. Doug Mark (R-3) was absent.
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