Many were predicting that Rockford's 2004 budget would have severe cuts. Public safety was expected to be in jeopardy and city jobs eliminated, but that's not the case at all. Monday night taxpayers and city employees can breath a sigh of relief.
No tax increases or city employee layoff's here in Rockford. Mayor Doug Scott presented his budget Monday night at Rockford City Council. This year many were bracing for some major cuts as the city was said to be in a poor financial state. So many were surprised at Mayor Scott's initial proposal.
First the negative, the proposed budget includes a $2.5 million deficit. Mayor Scott had four goals in calculating this budget. Restore spending for capital equipment; maintain existing service levels, no new layoffs and no tax increase. One city department who represents a good chunk of the city's general expenses is public safety. Mayor Scott accredits Rockford Police Chief Steve Pugh for cutting down overtime hours amongst his staff. Holding down expenses saved the city about a million dollars.
Under a $4.5 million bond issue the city will purchase 44 police cars, four fire pumpers, two ambulances, and 15 dump trucks. The ability to restore funding for new equipment has not been done for two years.
From here the city council will get a line item budget on December 22. Budget hearings are in January.