Rockford city leaders have a $320 million decision on their plates, the 2013 budget. It's down $10 million from last year but aldermen aren't ready to approve just yet. Instead of laying over this year's budget proposal another week, like council members did this past Monday, aldermen voted 7-5 rejecting it. Aldermen Mark, Wasco, Thompson-Kelly, Timm, Beach, Elyea and McNeely all voted against passing the budget. For more information on the proposal, click here.
It's a similar story from last week. Some city council members say they're not getting enough information about major upcoming projects.
"There's still questions on the geo-policing and the cost of that and how it will affect the budget." -says 4th Ward Alderman Carl Wasco.
3rd Ward Alderman Doug Mark says, "The big one is the uncertainty we have in the police area right now and we also need to take at the Capital Improvements Plan, so I think there's some questions about how we're funding and how we're doing some things."
A geo-policing plan would split the police department into three districts. Supporters want to start with a pilot district but that means moving the department out of the Public Safety Building and into a new one. About $380,000 is in the budget, it's labeled as a building maintenance cost for the new location, but alderman don't know where this building will be.
"To my knowledge, no set location has been approved yet so there's still that process to go through." -says Wasco.
The last two years, city council members have passed budgets before January 1st. The small goal was not met for 2013, but Alderman Wasco is confident they'll meet the real deadline.
"We have until March to get it done, we'll have it done long before then."
Aldermen did not say what this means for next week. The budget could either go back to the Finance and Personnel Committee, or council members who voted against the proposal could possibly reconsider.
Also at Monday night's meeting, a committee report was approved to lease four new ambulances for the Rockford Fire Department. US Bancorp will handle the leasing, the company is asking for a 1.125% interest rate. The vehicles will cost just over $1 million.
"We decided to use tax-exempt financing, basically a financing lease, to purchase as much equipment as quick as possible, to maintain the impact on our budget on an annual basis whereby we'd have smaller amounts each year over a five-year period." -says City of Rockford Finance Director Chris Black.
City leaders hope the ambulances will be delivered to Rockford by the end of February.
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