City Council approves 2011 budget, firefighters union still pushing for wage increase
By Jim Hagerty
A 12-1 vote by the Rockford City Council approved the city’s 2011 spending plan Monday, Dec. 27, ending months of cutbacks and concessions to help close the city’s $5.5 million deficit.
While city leaders hoped to be in the black next year, the approved budget still leaves the Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) administration to contend with a $162,000 shortfall.
However, according to numbers, the gap should be closed by various revenues and state tax subsidies.
The budget’s ability to cover expenses next year comes largely on the tails of police union concessions totaling $572,000. The union agreed to concessions in five areas, including a $200,000 agreement made possible by switching health care plans.
“It was enough to get us an agreement to keep all our people employed,” Police Union President Terry Peterson said. “Quite frankly, it’s to the detriment to the city not to have the police officers on the streets. We can’t afford to take a hit.”
Ald. Lenny Jacobsen (D-6) praised the agreement, calling it, “a step forward for the unions and the city council and staff and administration.”
The agreement guarantees the union that no police officers will be laid off next year.
While bargaining is over with the police union, the city has yet to reach an agreement with the International Fire Fighters Association 413, which is collectively asking for a 14.5 percent pay increase for firefighters.
Morrissey said an arbitrator will help the city reach a deal with the firefighters union.
If the union is granted the raise, the city’s spending could increase by as much as $2.5 million next year.
Ald. Linda McNeely (D-13) opposed approving the budget, saying the plan was piece-mailed and not presented to the council in a single report.
Ald. Pat Curan (R-2) was absent.
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.
Print This Article