Rockford Could Lose Public Works Workers As Winter Approaches, Due to Budget Shortfall

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The massive snowstorm that hit Rockford earlier in November was the second largest snowfall ever to hit the city in the month of November.

Rockford Public Works Director Tim Hanson says it cost the city more than $400,000 to perform snow maintenance during the snow storm.

“It was a very expensive snow event, as we thought it would be,” said Hanson. “Anytime you get anywhere from 9-12 inches of snow, you’re [going to] have some high cost.” 

The City is looking to cut more than $3 million from its budget to avoid raising taxes. One suggestion, made by City officials, is to decrease the already declining Public Works staff. The City is also proposing to consolidate snow routes from 22 to 17, which would stretch the average plow driver’s route by ten miles.
 
Hanson says the potential of a storm as strong as November’s hitting the Forest City again is a good reason why the City should not make cuts to his staff.

“We have to be very careful on how we do these [budget cuts], and how we manage that [public works staff]. We have a plan in place if that does occur. However, it still takes time to get storms done and a lack of staffing does not help that.”

One option brought up during Monday night’s council meeting that would save the city money, and keep Public Works employees, is to remove street lights throughout the city.

Finance Director Chris Black adds, “It would be about 2,800 street lights [removed], to generate the $689,000 in the budget. If you divide those 14 wards, we’re talking about significant numbers. You know 200 lights per ward.” 

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