City Council News: City leaders hope for surplus as 2011 budget is finalized
By Jim Hagerty
After a closed session centered on police union concessions, the Rockford City Council moved one step closer to approving the 2011 budget Monday, Dec. 20.
According to city leaders, if cuts, union concessions and union pension allocations can be finalized as planned, the budget will be approved before the end of the year.
During the closed session, which delayed the council meeting by more than an hour, the Finance and Personnel Committee examined a laundry list of cuts and proposed savings, most notably a $773,000 concession from Unit 6 of the Police Benevolent & Protective Association.
Last week, city leaders announced a plan to reallocate $1.5 million from the police and fire pension fund to part of the general fund set aside to help the city avoid laying off police officers and firefighters.
Coupled with union concessions, the measure would help the city eliminate the remaining budget of approximately $2.2 million. If savings are actual, Rockford could be in the black by as much as $38,000 next year.
City Legal Director Patrick Hayes said the numbers still to be need compared to specific elements of ongoing labor agreements before actual savings can be determined.
The city is still waiting on Gov. Pat Quinn (D) to sign a statewide pension reform bill, which will allow Rockford to reallocate pension payments.
The bill requires city police and fire pension funds to be 90 percent funded by 2041.
City leaders said labor agreements, although not finalized, do guarantee the union that no officers will be laid off in 2011.
Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) said members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) 158 and 158 B have agreed to a 2011 wage freeze.
“We’ve now got the core agreement with the AFSCME bargaining unit,” the mayor said. “It impacts about 430 employees with the City of Rockford. Because they are not seeking a general wage increase for 2011, it helps us meet our budget goal.”
Morrissey originally eyed a Dec. 20 deadline to pass the city’s spending plan, which started with a $5.5 million deficit. The budget is expected to be on the floor at the Dec. 28 council meeting.
The Rockford City Council meets in open session every Monday at 6 p.m. Meetings are in Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall, downtown.
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