City Beat: RVC cuts simply down to Springfield’s failures

By Shane Nicholson
Managing Editor

The Rock Valley College Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday night to eliminate 30 positions and wipe another 14 vacant posts off the books.

The move will save RVC $2.8 million as the college scrambles to recover costs in light of a lack of funding from the state.

A source close to the board told the Times that they expect Monday’s cuts will be enough to see the school through for the time being.

“With a small tuition increase (RVC) should be able to make this work,” they said, adding that the cuts were made with only a 50 percent funding guarantee from the state in mind.

Right now, the school is looking at a $7 million budget shortfall due to the impasse in the state.

“If Springfield gives the school nothing again next year, which is very possible, it would need further cuts and go further into reserves.”

Monday’s announced layoffs accounted for fully 14 percent of RVC’s 311 non-union staff positions. The board expects the savings will be enough to see the college through to 2017.

• The search for Rockford’s new police chief is well underway and the city is getting set to host a series of meetings for public input and info over the coming weeks.

One name officers the Times has talked to would certainly like to see on the shortlist: the District 2 Deputy Commander, Lieutenant Walter Felton.

“Walt’s a cop’s cop,” said one officer. “And I don’t just mean that in the old way, that he’s nothing but the badge. He’s done everything in that building, and he’s got the respect of all of us and of the community.”

Felton has in fact just about done it all for the city’s police department over the course of his 27-year career. Patrol and traffic beats, CSI, a detective working on youth and sex crimes, SWAT… it’s a lifetime of experience any officer would aspire to, and one many of his peers feel would serve Rockford well as chief.

“It might be a tough sell because people are so concerned with everything else these days,” another RPD officer told us. “But if he’s paired with the right (deputy chief), maybe even a minority candidate to help allay some concerns in the community, he could be just what the department needs.”

The respect for Felton from inside RPD’s halls would certainly be a departure from the Chet Epperson era; the former police chief was infamously on the wrong end of a 276-6 no-confidence vote by the union in 2007.

The community meetings will be held Thursday, 5:30 p.m. at the Millennium Center, 220 S. Madison St.; next Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. at Flinn Middle School, 2525 Ohio Pkwy; and Dec. 17 at St. Peter’s Cathedral, 1243 N. Church St.

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