Following a federal investigation revealing improper documentation of stimulus money in the city of Rockford, Mayor Larry Morrissey makes a suggestion to help pay it back.
But he's also brought up another issue dealing with city services and the funds supporting them. Community members spoke with the mayor face-to-face to clear up some of their concerns with his recommendations.
"The two major decisions the city is going to have to make is what kind of re-structuring may be required to reduce administrative costs with respect to grants and grant operations. That includes the proposal or suggestion that maybe it would be appropriate to consolidate the Human Services Department and the Community & Economic Development Department," said George Davis, Executive Directors of Rockford Human Services Department. "The other is the decision of what the impact of the decisions on the department would have on HeadStart and the HeadStart operation."
Potential impact to HeadStart stems from current underlying challenges of operating programs.
"If we want to provide the best possible support for our citizens then we need to be realistic that the funding at the federal level... is uncertain. And if we want to make sure our programs continue... then we need to begin this conversation with our community about how best to do that," said Morrissey.
Human services employees, including HeadStart staff, are worried about their place in the city's future. That's something the city leaders want to clear up.
"No decision has been made that has to do with anything with regard to changing the structure of HeadStart, changing who operates HeadStart, changing any of the programs for HeadStart and no plan is in place to do anything to change anything at this time. Anything to do with the department and its structure, its operations also will only be done after appropriate discussion with the city council and due consideration. And there is no proposal and no plan on the table right now and no timetable," said Davis.
City staff members plan to get more community input. The date, time and place of a possible next meeting is not yet set.
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