Rockford aldermen delayed a vote on the $485 million MercyRockford hospital project on Monday.
MercyRockford CEO Javon Bea wants the City to reduce $1.8 million in permit fees. The Codes and Regulations Committee approved that move last week, after MercyRockford threatened to explore locations in Wisconsin if the fees were not cut in half.
Mayor Morrissey and MercyRockford met late last week to discuss the idea and came to a tentative agreement. Morrissey then urged aldermen to give the deal a vote of approval tonight. But instead, Alderman Venita Hervey made a motion to lay it over, saying she fears it will upset the balance of health care in Rockford and believes the hospital’s threat to move is empty.
“I believe you stand up to the bully and you tell them no. You tell them negotiate with us in good faith,” said Ald. Hervey (D-5th Ward) during Monday’s council meeting. “Be fair and equitable to the citizens of Rockford and we will work with you. In the absence of that, there is no deal.”
“The behavior shown by aldermen Hervey and McNeely is truly a disgrace. Not only to the residents of Rockford, but also to the city and the people who live here,” said Barb Bortner, MercyRockford.
The hospital expansion would be the largest in Rockford’s history. In a news conference following Monday’s council meeting, Mayor Morrissey promised it will happen despite Ald. Hervey’s motion.
“Clearly, the two aldermen that voted to delay, they know that the overwhelming support is there,” said Mayor Larry Morrissey. “I think they did it out of spite, bitterness. You can ask them. I don’t know. But, it was to interfere with the ultimate approval of the project. That’s not going to happen.”
Morrissey said he expects the deal to pass when full council meets again March 21st.