Aldermen hear first phase of outsourcing recommendations
By Jim Hagerty
A Chicago-based consulting firm explained how the city could help close the gap on its $5.5 million deficit by outsourcing some of its services at the Monday, Jan. 24 meeting of the Rockford City Council.
Consulting firm Baker Tilly was hired last year to analyze a number of city services currently held in-house. According to the firm’s recommendations, Rockford could save more than $10 million per year by outsourcing medical services, street sweeping and the Head Start program. The firm also recommended city leaders make changes to its fleet management operation.
The council’s Outsourcing Committee told aldermen the city should consider taking Baker Tilly’s advice.
Ad. Venita Hervey (D-5), a committee member, called the the firm’s report a “comprehensive, good starting point,” while City Administrator Jim Ryan noted key cost-cutting areas of the city’s capital management program.
“The process that the outsourcing subcommittee was charged with was looking at a host of functional areas the city delivers to citizens on a daily basis,” Ryan said.
One of those functional areas is the city’s fleet of cars. Not since 2004 has the city had capital to purchase news vehicles. In the last seven years, Rockford has spent about $1 million per year in wages alone, repairing its cars, some of which, Ryan said, should be retired.
“We have an aging fleet that’s in dire need of replacement,” Ryan said. “We certainly don’t have the capital to do that.”
According to Baker Tilly, the city could solve the problem by leasing vehicles and downsizing the fleet by as much as 74 percent.
The Baker Tilly report also noted that much of the city’s street sweeping could be outsourced and that only a small in-house service reserved for smaller areas of the city is needed.
Saving on emergency medical services, the firm says, would best be done by examining proposals from outsourced EMS providers. Baker Tilly recommends reducing the minimum number of firefighters on each truck to three. That option, city officials said, cannot be explored until collective bargaining with International Fire Fighters Association 413 has been completed.
Aldermen decided to table discussions about outsourcing the city’s Head Start program for a future meeting.
Ryan said the Baker Tilly report consists of two phases. The first deals with direct services the city provides to citizens. The second phase includes outsourcing recommendations in the city’s finance, human resources and legal departments.
No action was taken on the report Monday. Recommendations will be discussed by the Finance and Personnel Committee before aldermen vote on moves to outsource any of the city’s services.
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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