Rockford city leaders campaigned hard last spring to pass a one percent sales tax increase to fund road improvements. Now their task has shifted. Work is beginning in earnest to sort out which projects will get funding and when.
Rockford aldermen met Tuesday night to start wading through all the city's roads and bridges that need makeovers, and to develop a formula for how to divy up the sales tax money to pay for those projects.
The increased sales tax money is expected to bring in 16 million dollars for infrastructure repairs in 2008 alone. The increase sunsets in July 2012. Over those five years, city leaders expect it will generate a total of 240 million dollars. That's including matching state and federal funds. The money will be divided as evenly as possible between the city's wards and every alderman has projects he or she wants done.
"We want to really be fair with the citizens who voted for the sales tax and in order to do that we all have to look at what is coming into the individual wards, but at the same time you look at what is in the best interest of the entire city," says Alderman Victory Bell.
Another factor aldermen are looking at is how much sales tax money to pull for flood water management and reducing risk for future floods, for instance repairs to the Alpine Dam may require a large chunk of that change.
Aldermen will meet again next Tuesday to continue the planning process. Rockford hasn't had a capital improvements plan for two years, so there's a lot of work to catch up on.