City of Rockford

City of Rockford

Rockford residents are invited to share their thoughts on creating a Family Justice Center. It's part of Mayor Tom McNamara’s Office of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention and the 17th Judicial Circuit Domestic Violence Coordinated Court. 

Guy Stephens/ WNIJ

Rockford’s mayor wishes his city’s fire department wasn’t the second-busiest in Illinois. But he’s pleased about a big drop in violent crimes. 

Tom McNamara said, for the first four months of the year, the city’s fire department has seen an increase in total calls compared to the same period last year, with a 26 percent increase in fire calls.

More than 1,400 Illinois townships will hold their annual town meeting tonight.

More than 170,000 people live in Rockford Township, which is one of the largest townships in Illinois. 

Township Supervisor Jasper St. Angel says the typical number of residents that come to the town meetings is between 10 and 15. St. Angel says he’s not anticipating any controversial issues coming up during this year’s town meeting. He also says Rockford Township is one of the few local governments in the state without debt.

Jessie Schlacks/WNIJ

Rockford leaders unveiled an anonymous survey to get feedback on victims’ experiences with area resources.

This comes as Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara declared April “Sexual Assault Awareness Month.”

Survey questions include whether doctors or police made the victim feel supported – and ways the process could have been easier. 

Victor Yehling /WNIJ

Voters in Tuesday’s primary election rejected the effort to re-implement home rule authority in Rockford. WNIJ spoke with people on both sides of the issue about what this means for Rockford’s future.

The Illinois Constitution grants home rule authority to municipalities that have at least 25,000 residents. Others can gain that authority through a direct ordinance. Rockford naturally qualified in 1970 due to its population, but a referendum removed home-rule status in 1983.

The Rock River Times

The Rockford City Council approved a resolution Monday that would allow residents to recall aldermen and mayors if they go against certain provisions that are part of a bid for home rule.

A referendum on the March 20 ballot asks Rockford residents to grant home rule authority. But the council already has approved provisions to limit how the city raises property taxes and takes on debt.

Ballot Objection Delays Early Voting In Rockford

Feb 7, 2018
FLICKR USER / KRISTIN_A (MERINGUE BAKE SHOP) "VOTE!" (CC BY 2.0)

The Rockford Board of Elections is postponing early voting for the March 20th primary election.

This comes after an objection for State Representative Scott Drury’s attorney general bid. The case hinges on whether the Highwood Democrat properly filed a statement of economic interest.

Stacey Bixby is executive director of the Rockford Board of Elections.

Mayo Clinic News Network

Government officials in Winnebago County announced Tuesday they are taking aim at the pharmaceutical industry in the fight against opioid abuse. 

 

Rockford and County officials said they intend to pursue legal action against companies they believe helped enable the growing opioid addiction crisis. 

 

City of Rockford

Rockford aldermen voted in favor of a plan to secure funding for the Barber-Colman industrial campus. 

Moody's Downgrades Rockford Bond Rating

Jul 11, 2017
Moody's

Moody’s Investor Service downgraded Rockford’s debt rating from A1 to A2.

The group says the downgrade reflects the city’s high pension burden, as well as greater operating costs and a limited ability to raise revenue. The Rockford Register Star reports city officials say the lack of home rule authority limits the ability to raise such revenue. The lower rating likely will increase overall borrowing costs.

The Belvidere School District will open a health and wellness center for its employees July 10 in a district building at Sixth Street and East Avenue.  

It will be operated by Activate Healthcare and provide several services to employees who accept the district's insurance program, the Rockford Register Star reports.

Unlimited primary care services, annual health assessments, health coaching, and generic medications are included at no cost. 

City of Rockford

Rockford aldermen delayed a vote on approving fee waivers for MercyHealth totaling about $200,000.  

The fees normally would go toward inspecting sidewalks, roads and infrastructure around the healthcare company's Women and Children’s Hospital and Medical Center on Riverside Boulevard.  It's part of an annexation agreement between the City of Rockford and MercyHealth, which capped building permit fees at $900,000, according to the Register Star.  

HUD

Rockford has reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development over potential Civil Rights Act violations.

Federal authorities launched an investigation in November 2015, when Rockford debated a plan to replace Fairgrounds Valley housing units with The Grove at Keith Creek, an 65-unit affordable housing development on South New Towne Drive.

City of Rockford

Rockford’s city council narrowly approved the Amerock hotel project.  The Register Star reports it was approved 7-6. 

City of Rockford

Plans to convert a downtown Rockford building into a hotel and conference center were delayed by two weeks. 

The city council is working on a deal with Gorman & Company that would renovate the former Amerock building by Davis Park.  Alderman were slated to approve the proposal Monday.  However, the Rockford Register-Star reports there were lingering concerns about the arrangement.  

Rockford officials could tap a public schools support organization to create a local pipeline for new police officers and firefighters. 

The city’s Finance and Personnel Committee voted Monday in favor of a proposal that would pay Alignment Rockford $40,000 per year for three years to create high-school level certification programs for students interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement or firefighting.

City of Rockford

Members of Rockford's Finance and Personnel Committee forwarded a budget plan to address a  $5.3 million shortfall to the full city council.

Rockford Police Department

Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea and Mayor Larry Morrissey welcomed several hundred people Wednesday into the old Turner School Building at 1410 Broadway. 

City of Rockford

Rockford is expanding its homelessness surveys to include young people. 

The Register-Star reports the new focus comes as the city achieved "functional zero" for veteran homelessness in 2015.  This means the number of veterans entering homelessness equals the number coming out. 

Rockford’s City Administrator Is Stepping Down

Jan 17, 2017

City Administrator Jim Ryan is leaving his position next month.

He's accepting the position of Vice President/Chief Operating Officer for Rock Valley College. 

Starting as City Administrator in 2005, Ryan oversees daily operations of 10 departments.

Ryan launched his career with the city in 1999 as the Capital Development Manager. It followed a five-year stint as the Assistant Village Manager for the Village of Grayslake.

He led the city's downtown efforts in financing a structure for the MetroCentre renovation. 

City of Rockford

Rockford aldermen say they’ll ask the Cliffbreakers Riverside Hotel and Conference Center to bolster their security staff before releasing funds for a federal loan. 

A gunfight broke out on the property on New Years Day, resulting in one person, 34-year-old Joshua Jamerson, dying of his wounds, and three others hospitalized.  This follows a similar incident in October when more than 20 gunshots were fired in the property's parking lot.  

Rockford May Extend Distressed Homes Tax Refund

Dec 21, 2016
City of Rockford

Rockford may extend a property tax refund for distressed homes.   

The Homebuyers Property Tax Refund Program was created in April.  It returns funds to owners who bought foreclosed properties or "short sale" homes.  These properties have mortgage amounts higher than their actual value.  

Ben Jacobson/CC 2.5

One of the main arguments Great Lakes Basin Transportation Inc. has made in favor of its rail project is that it would act as an economic driver for the region.  Company lawyer Mike Blaszak says construction would create a significant number of jobs.

"Those of course, would be temporary," he said, "but the construction period would last at least two years."

Once the railroad is in operation, he envisions a smaller set of permanent positions operating trains, maintaining track, and other daily functions. 

Brightening Up Madison Street In Rockford For A Price

Dec 14, 2016
"Streetlight" by Flickr User Matt Mets / (CC X 2.0)

The Rock River Development Partnership is looking for sponsors to pay to turn on lights on Madison Street, which is a busy area in downtown Rockford.

This comes after the public works department turned off 15 percent of the city’s streetlights in 2011 to close a budget gap.

The group says the average cost to sponsor the streetlights ranges between $6 and $8 a month plus electricity.

City of Rockford

Outgoing Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey will discuss a potential utility tax this evening.  

The city faces a $5 million budget shortfall, mostly due to an increase in pension costs.  In 1999 and 2001, the Illinois General Assembly lowered the public safety retirement age from 55 to 50, guaranteed annual 3 percent cost of living increases and agreed  to continue paying spouses of retired firefighters and police officers who die the same pension they got while alive.  A report says pensioners are also living longer after they retire.  

Lydia Urban Academy

The Lydia Urban Academy is in danger of closing its doors before the end of the school year.    

The nontraditional Christian high school serves about 20 students with social, behavioral, and learning disabilities that make it difficult for them to succeed in a traditional setting.  Some are escaping from bullying, while others are referred by Rosecrance Health Network or the state juvenile detention system. 

Rockford Terminates Oldest TIF Districts

Dec 6, 2016
City of Rockford

Rockford’s City Council terminated the area’s three oldest TIF districts.  

The West Side, East Side, and Seventh Street districts contributed to investment downtown and in Midtown for 35 years.  The districts reached their maximum age allowable by law and their termination will add about $11 million in equalized assessed value to the city's property tax roles.  

Northern Illinois Municipalities Declare Snow Emergency

Dec 5, 2016

Many local municipalities declared snow emergencies Sunday evening.   

The moves were prompted by at least three inches of snow accumulation over the winter.  Some areas, instituted odd/even parking rules. However, Rockford canceled its emergency rules as of 8 a.m. Monday. Officials say they've completed plowing and salting arterial and residential routes.

More information on Rockford snow conditions can be found at rockfordil.gov.

US Drug Enforcement Administration

Rockford police seized $8.6 million in cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl in a raid last month in southeast Rockford, officials announced Thursday.

Officers found the drugs after raiding 629 16th Avenue on Nov. 22, where they arrested 58-year-old Luis Ruiz, according to the Rockford Register Star. He's been charged with delivery of a controlled substance and three counts of possession with intent to deliver.   

City of Rockford

Rockford aldermen delayed approving a collective bargaining agreement with library workers.  

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