For the past two weeks many social service agencies have been were fighting for money. In all $800,000 was requested but only $200,000 was up for grabs. Months ago several area agencies applied to receive a piece of Rockford's Community Assistance Program pie. When it came to decision time over who would ultimately get the grant money it was a fight until the end. The Community Assistance Program funding is awarded to organizations based on a point system. Those that made the cut though weren't guaranteed to make it to the end. The full city council has the ultimate power to award the money. And that's where the conflict comes in.
Alderman Jeff Holt and Alderman Linda McNeely both proposed changes to the list. Alderman Holt suggested taking money from organizations such as the Carpenter’s Place and Promised Land. McNeely wanted to take money out of Weed and Seed and Cease Fire and give it to Let’s Talk It Out which is a group that never even made the final cut. Monday night aldermen voted against both Holt and McNeely's suggestions and stuck to the original list.
Allan Barseman, Executive Director of the Carpenter’s Place was pleased with the decision and says, “Every person we get off the street and out of being homeless that is a person who goes from being a chronic tax consumer to a tax payer."
Alderman Holt stated, “Part of this process is that the aldermen can make recommendations, changes and approve or deny the requests that come forward. The aldermen tonight decided instead to not use their authority to do that and approve recommendations from city staff."
Alderman Holt said he was just sticking up for his ward and intends on looking at how the CAP funding is dished out.
In other council news, before the meeting members of the Codes and Regulations Committee continued work on a truancy ordinance. City leaders want to see the buses and classrooms filled. Recently the state gave non-home rule communities the power to come down harder on students who skip. Right now Rockford has a daytime curfew ordinance that prohibits minors in public places during school hours. The truancy ordinance could prohibit students from being absent from school without valid cause.
Alderman Doug Mark says, "There are some fines that could be imposed. There is some parental responsibility and even some public service that could be instructed or enacted along with that so I think there's some steps and guidelines that we want to take more look at."
The committee has a draft of the ordinance. The Regional Superintendent along with Rockford Superintendent Dr. Dennis Thompson will both review the plan this week.