How To Pay For Improvements

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Last week both the Rockford City Council and the Winnebago County Board made two major steps and both efforts signified that unanimously it was out with the old Rockford MetroCentre and in with the new. But this is a new week.

In the end, the concept and the idea regarding MetroCentre improvements got rave reviews. But now that money is involved more is at stake. Alderman Frank Beach states, "We've got to get the agreements in order and we'll move forward. What's wrong with that?"

It's a question that divided the Planning and Development Committee in half. Which meant that a decision to authorize $23 million in Alternate Revenue Bonds is still in committee. Alderman Beach questions the order in which all this is happening. Beach went on to say, “Last week it was the consensus of the committee that we wouldn't move forward till we saw the Intergovernmental Agreement."

That agreement is between Rockford and Winnebago County. The two bodies are both chipping in money to make sure if and when the AHL Chicago Blackhawks come to town or the Rockford IceHogs stay put that the MetroCentre is still standing.

Rockford City Administrator Jim Ryan went on to say, “Like many things that happen in city government a lot of things happen concurrently and not sequentially. This is no different than when we go out on bonds for TIF’s."

Those in favor of a memorandum to explore ways to finance the MetroCentre worry that this week the wrong message is being sent. Alderman Dan Conness says, “I hope not. I guess that they way I look at it if there was not going to be any harm in it then what's the reason for holding it up?"

The 20 year bond decision will be back in committee next week. In the end the full Rockford City Council would have to form one opinion. Aldermen voted on a property tax increase. The tax rate would actually drop by a couple cents. For example if your home is worth $100,000 assessed value your property tax rate would go down about 15 bucks.