Rockford City Council considers two versions of 2018 balanced budget

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- While facing a $10 million budget deficit, the city of Rockford needs to come up with a balanced budget by the end of the month.

The City Council is considering two versions of the budget, and home rule could play a factor in the decision.

The $10.2 million deficit has now been reduced to $3.9 million thanks to cuts and revenue changes made from recommendations by the city's financial task force. But the council still has to vote on a balanced budget plan.

City staff presented two versions of a balanced budget at the Finance and Personnel Committee on Monday night. Plan A is based off home rule passage. That budget includes an increase in the redevelopment fund from 1 percent to 2 percent to bring in nearly $3 million, and increasing gaming machine fees from $25 to $1,000 to raise about $460,000.

If home rule doesn’t pass, budget plan B would include a utility tax that will generate around $3.5 million this year.

"They want to reduce our property tax burden, so to do some of the measures we had to make some tough decisions; we're going to have to increase revenue from some areas. We can increase while reducing that property tax burden while also maintaining strong public safety,” said Rockford Mayor Thomas McNamara.

Both budget plans include a $400,000 reduction in the property tax levy.

The full city council is expected to vote on a budget plan March 26, after the vote on home rule is made during the March 20 primaries.