The Rockford City Council discussed one of the biggest issues facing the city Monday night, the growing budget deficit.
“It is the challenge,” said 3rd Ward Alderman Venita Hervey. “Not just the deficit, which is again that six and a half million for next year and I believe we are going to have a carry over deficit from this year,” she added.
The budget deficit is only projected to get worse. The city says it will hit 40 million dollars by the year 2022.
Part of the issue, are the short term solutions the city took to balance this year’s budget, such as taking money from certain departments. It’s a move Alderman Frank Beach believes should not be happening.
“We can’t continue to do that,” said Beach. “There are healthy reserves that are needed in the case of rainy day. We need to look at what we are going to do going forward to see how we can solve that particular issue,” he added.
This year’s budget does not take in to account additional expenses the city will have to pay out in coming years. Those expenses include the much publicized police technology upgrade, upgrading aging fire stations, as well as the modernization of the City Yards. Those projects are to total more than 20 million dollars over the next five years, not to mention police and fire legacy fund payments.
“We’ve got time to deal with it to look at solutions, discover how we can be creative in terms of dealing with that for the people of our community,” Beach said. “I think our staff does a great job with their protections, but there are so many variables that are fluid that we have to be ready for,” Hervey added.
Mayor McNamara has made a financial committee called the Finance Task Force aimed at finding solutions to the budget. The committee is also planning on working with Winnebago County to find efficient ways to use future funds.