Ambulance outsourcing bids get committee vote, Mayor Morrissey questions police promotion ruling
The Finance and Personnel Committee gave the Rockford City Council the go-ahead to seek bids from the private sector to manage its ambulance services Monday, Feb. 14.
The move comes after two aldermen requested more information on how to move forward. Last night, Ald. Doug Mark (R-3) and Ald. Carl Wasco (D-4) supported the measure, prompting a unanimous vote by the committee.
Part of Mark’s reasoning for delaying his vote two weeks ago centered on consultant Baker Tilly’s fee of $4,500 to help with the bid-seeking process–something he said the city should not spend. Officials said Monday that the fee no longer exists.
If the measure receives a majority council vote, the city will seek bids from private ambulance services to help Rockford shift some of the costs away from the fire department.
According to officials, replacing Rockford Fire Department EMS teams with private squads would allow the city to quell rising pension and health care expenses.
Outsourcing ambulatory services is one of four areas Baker Tilly recommended the city consider to tackle mounting budget constraints. Outsourcing some of the city’s street-sweeping services, parts management system and leasing vehicles instead of purchasing, are the other three.
By following its lead, Baker Tilly says the City of Rockford would save approximately $10.5 million.
Baker Tilly also recommended the city outsource services in the finance, human resources and legal departments. Those areas have yet to be mulled by the council.
Aldermen are expected to vote on ambulance outsourcing bids next week.
Meanwhile, Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) mentioned an arbitrator’s ruling that the city must promote select police officers to investigators if positions become available within the department.
Before the ruling, Morrissey argued, because of budget problems, the decision to make those promotions should be at the discretion of the city council and police officials–not the union. However, according to the arbitrator, the mayor’s provision will not be included in police employment contracts.
Morrissey said he accepts the ruling but questions its logic, citing that investigators will assume some of their duties as patrol officers after they’ve been promoted. That, he said, equates to nothing more than a pay raise.
“We have to promote them but, we can still have them do the old work on patrol,” Morrissey said. “What’s the logic of that?” “Now you get a pay increase for doing the same job, and the taxpayers have to foot the bill.”
Police Union President Terry Peterson said promotions would only be made in budgeted-for positions and would not result in additional costs.
Aldermen also approved a motion to rebuild the Morgan Street Bridge and make repairs on W. State and S. Main streets as part of the city’s capital improvement plan.
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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