The City of Rockford is starting down a $8.9 million deficit heading into the 2018 budget cycle. A new task force has already been hard at work to find answers to balance the city's budget. The group says it's leaving everything on the table.
"We have been looking at everything," says 7th Ward Alderman and task force member Ann Thompson-Kelly. "Everything is on the table."
The task force is made up of three aldermen and community members from a variety of backgrounds. For the past three months they've opened the city's books, and worked to have honest conversations with city leaders about what's absolutely necessary for the department's to deliver services. ]
"There are things we did ten years ago that we can't do now. There's things we need to look at and see what's practical," says Thompson-Kelly. "What's the biggest bang for our buck?"
Finance Task Force Chairman Michelle Petrie says the group tasked the city's departments with something called an efficiency exercise. Basically going through their budget's line by line to justify expenditures. She says it's forcing department heads to get creative and think outside the box for ways to not only save money, but generate revenue.
"Every kind of thing like that has to be uncovered to make this work out in my opinion," says 10th Ward Alderman and task force member Frank Beach. "We can't do business as usual."
Those who have sat on city council for multiple budget cycles say this head start on finding budget solutions is a refreshing change.
"I'm excited, not about the problem. But I'm excited there are solutions there that we are searching for," says Beach. "We will solve this problem."
The task force next meets September 19th. There the department heads will present their findings to the task force and what they've discovered through examining their expenses.