By Stuart R. Wahlin
March 22, the Rockford City Council approved its $110 million 2010 budget in a nearly-unanimous vote.
Before the vote, aldermen Nancy Johnson (D-8) and Bill Robertson (I-14) requested a slight change in the order of proceedings, explaining their support of the budget was contingent on the adoption of a resolution whereby any proceeds from video gambling would be devoted to capital purchases. Because of stressful economic conditions, no capital purchases have been earmarked for the 2010 spending plan. The resolution prevailed in a voice vote.
As part of the city’s efforts to counteract revenue shortfalls, aldermen also agreed to a number of amendments to raise fees related to permits for liquor and special events. Aldermen Joe Sosnowski (R-1), Lenny Jacobson (D-6), Bill Timm (R-9), Karen Elyea (D-11) and Linda McNeely (D-13) voted against the fee increases, but only McNeely voted against the amended motion once the amendments had prevailed. McNeely also cast the only dissenting vote for passage of the 2010 spending plan.
Aldermen subsequently passed the city’s related appropriation ordinance as a final measure in the budget process.
→ Authorizing the sale of vacant lots at 416 and 420 N. Avon St. for a minimum bid of $7,800, with preference given to adjacent property owners. Ald. McNeely voted “no.”
→ Approving a $120,000 funding agreement with the Illinois Housing Development Authority to upgrade eight homes for seniors and the disabled.
→ Approving bids for five demolitions. K&M Excavating and Demolition, of Marengo, was awarded $11,779 and $16,794 for demolitions of 623 Willard Ave. and 802 Marchesano Drive, respectively. KLF Excavating, of Markham, was awarded $7,350 and $6,700 for demolitions of 700 Willard Ave. and 208 Concord Ave., respectively. Rodman Service was awarded $600 for demolition of 601 Willard Ave.
→ Awarding Rock Road Companies, of Janesville, Wis., a $1,767,881.08 contract for city-wide resurfacing of residential streets.
→ Awarding Complete Asphalt Service, of Pittsfield, $175,000 for city-wide crack sealing.
→ Authorizing the signing of a memorandum of understanding regarding railroad consolidation at Kishwaukee Street. The estimated cost of the consolidation is $4.75 million, most of which is expected to be borne by the Illinois Commerce Commission. The remainder would be covered by a combination of funds from sales and motor fuel taxes.
→ Approving a $7,500-per-month lobbying contract for McGuireWoods Consulting, with Illinois offices in Chicago and Springfield, for April through December.
→ Approving a $35,000 amendment to an engineering agreement with Fehr-Graham & Associates for environmental cleanup of the Ingersoll property. The cost, paid for by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, includes cleanup planning, oversight and final reporting.
Mike Brackett, president of the Keith Creek Neighborhood Association, continued pressing aldermen to move ahead with the demolitions of homes that were flooded in 2006 and 2007. The city purchased the homes, but demolition has stalled as council members debate how to back the bonds necessary for the program.
Meantime, Brackett has reminded aldermen, the vacant homes have attracted a criminal element into the neighborhood. Brackett warned he will continue appearing before the council each week until action is taken to raze the structures.
Community activist Prophet Yusef argued $9 billion of the state’s recently-passed $31 billion capital plan, along with $2 billion each from the state’s tourism and tobacco funds, should be diverted toward education. He argued the state is breaking its promise to the children of Illinois, while placing its budget deficit burden on municipalities.
Northern Illinois Building Contractors Association Executive Director Glen Turpoff urged aldermen to consider three Cs—corridor, capital and the clock—when deciding how to deal with the Amerock and Tapco properties, which the city is eying for purchase and demolition. Turpoff advised aldermen to choose wisely as the city decides how to proceed with the properties. A recently-formed development company, Rock River Live, Inc., is asking the city to withdraw its letter of intent to purchase the Amerock building. Ricky Trinidad, a company spokesman representing undisclosed investors, said he envisions a hotel, convention center and retail at the site.
Earlier this month, Turpoff signed a grievance order on behalf of Carpenters Local 792, requesting that Comprehensive Community Solutions (CCS), Inc., which operates the local YouthBuild program—pay nearly $50,000 for allowing five YouthBuild graduates to take part in deconstruction job-training in Loves Park as part of a U.S. Department of Labor pilot program. The union, which has since filed a federal lawsuit, argues such a project is subject to prevailing wage laws, further alleging CCS is operating as a construction company subject to a collective bargaining agreement. As a result, the YouthBuild deconstruction training program for disadvantaged youth has been brought to a halt at the former Hines Lumber site in Loves Park. (See “Lawsuit by carpenters union targets YouthBuild program” in this issue).
Ald. Venita Hervey (D-5) was absent.
From the March 24-30, 2010 issue