Freeport tackles public safety with new budget spending - – Rockford’s News Leader

Freeport tackles public safety with new budget spending


When it comes to improving public safety, Freeport leaders say they're ready to invest in the long term.

"[It's] an overall effort to reduce crime, clean up the roads, and make the neighborhoods more livable," said new Freeport City Manager Lowell Crow.

The city says its doing that by allocating more money in its next proposed budget for three major areas: road improvement, demolition and the police force. 

"That's not something magical that you throw in one year and all your roads are taken care of, but it gets us on track to readjust our priorities," said 2nd Ward Alderman and Finance Chair Peter McClanathan.

In the new budget, the city plans to double the amount of money spent on demolishing blighted properties. 

Aldermen say that nearly triples the city's demolition goal to 80 buildings. 

"We all hit the same pot holes and we all go through those issues, so when you hear that there's money that's going to go towards that that's always a positive impact," said McClanathan.

The city would also set aside a quarter of a million dollars for road repairs and an additional $100,000 to hire more police officers. 

"We've really depleted our patrols, our patrol division and we want to get those numbers back up," said Freeport's Deputy Chief of Police Matt Summers. 

So where is the money coming from? McClanathan says mild winters over the past few years helped the city save on road salt and build reserves. Now, that money will shift to pay a large chunk of Freeport's new budget priorities.

"We looked at where we needed to make changes and adjustments based on the guidelines we had from the council and then where we could pick up savings in the budget," said Crow.

It's an approach these city leaders say goes 'all in' on getting Freeport cleaned up and back on track.

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