Rockford's $10 million budget deficit will soon get smaller.
"The idea is if we don't need the money, we should give it back," says Rockford Finance Director Carrie Eklund.
Eklund says the city had a surplus of money that was set aside in the worker's compensation and unemployment fund. Money that isn't need to keep the funds running at a functional level in 2018.
"That will reduce the projected deficit by $2.7 million dollars."
But Eklund says that's a one time revenue source, and the city is looking for ways that will continue to ease its budget woes year after year. One idea the Finance and Personnel Committee approved Monday night would give the city the power to prosecute low level offenses.
"It allows the offense to stay off the criminal record of the offender," says Eklund.
This means people who commit non-violent crimes, likes disorderly conduct, would have to pay a fine instead of go to court. Similar to what you do now for a parking ticket. The city estimates this could generate roughly $187,000 per year. The city says the benefits would be two-fold.
"Essentially it's going to free up space in the court system to address the issues that really need a judge and jury trial and the resources of the court system."
Aldermen also approved other budget recommendations in committee on Monday that will now head to full council for a vote. You can find more on those here.