Rockford aldermen are in the process of discussing more than 70 suggestions brought forth by the Rockford Finance Task Force. These recommendations aim to fix the city's $10.2 million dollar budget deficit.
The Finance and Personnel Committee approved 10 of these items on Monday night, sending them to full council for its review. One suggestion would increase the license fee for "nuisance" businesses. These include second hand stores, pawnshops, lingerie stores, and bikini bars. Second hand stores currently pay $63 for their license, while adult entertainment licenses are over $1,600. Under what aldermen approved, those prices could increase to $2,500.
Some aldermen shared concerns this wouldn't encourage more businesses to locate in the city. However, when it comes to the final price of these licenses, aldermen say it's something full council and other committees will hash out on a later date.
"These numbers will be clearly and thoroughly looked at by the "Doing Business in Rockford Committee" and also I'm sure by the Code and Regulation Committee and the full city council," says 14th Ward Alderman Joe Chiarelli. "I did receive phone calls on these numbers already and I want to make sure that the general public understand that these are recommendations that will be thoroughly vetted through."
City Council has until March 31st to figure out a budget.
These are the items aldermen discussed. Item #2 was held out while item #12 was not recommending to be passed by the Finance Task Force. Aldermen agreed with that recommendation, and did not vote #12 through.
1.Elevator inspection contract/fee - Elevator inspections are currently performed by the State Fire
Marshall’s Office. Best practice in municipalities is to contract for this service to be performed locally.
The proposal is to solicit proposals for inspection services, to be performed for all elevators within the
City. The inspection fees charged are estimated to generate revenue beyond the cost of the contract.
Staff will bring first ordinance modifications, then the award of an RFP back to Council for approval.
2. Property standards inspection fee - Assessing a fee for staff time performing inspections to verify
compliance after code violations have been abated. Staff will bring ordinance modifications back to
3. Increase business license fees 10% - Research on comparable license fees is in progress. Once
complete, we will bring updated rates and comparative information back to Council for approval.
4. Replace copper lines with fiber - certain fire stations are not served by the City’s existing fiber
network, and rely on connections provided by AT&T for network access. The cost to extend the fiber
connections is estimated at $125,000, but will yield $100,000 annually in savings from services
purchased from AT&T. Staff will proceed.
5. Complete outside repairs at Fire Shop - Create IGA to be executed with partnering Cities/fire
protection districts. Will be brought individually to Council for approval.
6. Reduce training/travel by 15% - staff will review training and travel expenditures and make targeted
reductions. No effect on required certifications or mandatory trainings.
7. Stop filing mowing liens - Expense of filing is not justifying annual revenue recovery. Utilize alternative
collection methods instead.
8. Collect mowing costs through code enforcement process - Access the IDROP program through the
State of IL or pursue judgments in court through Legal Department staff
9. Increase license fees for “nuisance” businesses - Increase second hand license (currently $63) and
adult entertainment license (currently $1,623) to $2,500. Require bikini bar owners to register dancers
and pay an annual fee of $100 per dancer. Staff will present ordinance modifications for approval.
10.Terminate housing committee legal services contract - use existing Legal staff for housing issues
11. Reduce police overtime - discussed with and offered by the Department due to some schedule adjustments and current staffing levels
12. Charge for employment verification - charging employees $10 to provide verification of employment for loans or other purposes.