Household buying level at 111 percent of nation Standards and Poors considers Rockford’s financial practices good under their Financial Management Assessment (FMA) methodology. “In our opinion the city’s overall debt burden is moderate at 4.3 percent of market value and $3,632 per capital,” read a credit report provided after a review of the city’s bond rating. “In our view, debt service carrying charges were a moderate 10 percent in fiscal 2010.” The financial monitoring company reported that Rockford’s financial future is deemed stable and that the city will continue to make budget adjustments it deems necessary, despite continued decline in state-shared revenues and taxable value reductions. It noted that the city has been cutting expenditures to maintain reserves that “we consider very strong.” Standards and Poors notes that Rockford residents “have strong income levels and benefit from employment opportunities throughout Kent County and the greater Grand Rapids area.” It said the city, population 5,502, has a median household effective buying income as strong as 111 percent of the national level. T The unemployment rate in Kent County in 2010 was 10.2 percent compared with the State of Michigan’s 12.5 percent. Although the city’s taxable value has decreased the last two years, but the market value of $84,688 is still considered very strong by Standard and Poors. “In our opinion the city’s tax base is diverse, with the ten leading taxpayers making up 23 percent of taxable value, although shoe manufacturer Wolverin World Wide Inc. makes up ten percent.” The report noted the city expects an increase in state-shared revenue based on an increase in population, and is projecting break-even operations in the general fund for 2011. At the end of the fiscal year for 2010, (June 30) the city had an unreserved fund balance of $1.4 million (55 percent of expenditures), which Standards and Poors considers “very strong.” Fiscal 2012 budget shows a $75,000 surplus in the general fund and expects a $150,000 surplus because it did not budget for additional state-shared revenue. The city levies at 10.9 mils compared to the maximum allowed of 14.0311. “This translates to $620,000 in additional annual revenue the city could raise if city council approves. Management has no plans to raise the millage, however.” City Manager Michael Young […]
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Monday evening’s July Rockford City Council meeting had, what was most certainly, an unusual twist. Making a presentation before City staff and council members, past Rockford City Manager Joe Salitros (1980-1984) had scheduled a stop in Rockford to thank the City for the role it had played in his 30+ years of public service. Salitros has recently retired from public service, having served as either city administrator or city manager for five municipalities throughout the Midwest. Salitros haltingly told the Council that, “Rockford carries a special place in my heart. We started our family here and I feel I laid part of the foundation of what Rockford has become today.” We learned, that evening, that the first time Salitros was introduced to Mary Eadie was when both, driving separate vehicles, arrived at the same time in the center of an intersection. (He didn’t say who was at fault!) Coincidentally, Eadie was a Rockford Councilwoman at the time, a position she still holds to this day. Salitros’ stop in Rockford was part of a multi-city thank-you visit to the cities he had served in moving on in the furtherance of his career. In a gesture, heretofore unheard of by your reporters, Salitros said he felt compelled to offer up a nominal token of appreciation (based on length of service) on behalf of himself and his family to each and every city he was privileged to serve. Salitros then presented City Manager Michael Young with the original 1982 Rockford City Code Book, a codebook he was proud to have been a part of developing. Moving on, Salitros closed his presentation by presenting the City with two checks, one in the amount of $300 to the Rockford Area Community Endowment and the other in the same amount to the Rockford Rotary Club to be used towards Rotary Pavilion improvements. Way to go Joe, Rockford in turn thanks you. All retiring public officials should be so beneficent.
by BETH ALTENA United Bank’s CEO and president Art Johnson, honorary chair of the West Michigan Healing Fields, has stepped up to present his bank as Field Sponsor for the memorial tribute to those killed on 9/11. The bank gave the project a $10,000 check Tuesday, May 24. According to Nancy Martin, manager of the Rockford branch of United Bank, the area tribute to those lost in the terrorist attack is likely to result in national media coverage. Martin said the tribute will take place on the 10th anniversary of the attack—a milestone memorial—and this Healing Fields event will be one of the biggest in the country. “It’s very expensive to put on, but we felt we had to go full bore with it.” The parent organization of the West Michigan Healing Fields is the Rockford Area Community Endowment (RACE), which put up the $50,000 required to stage the event. The public, organizations and businesses are invited to buy one of the three-by-five-foot flags at just $75, which are limited to 3,200—the number of people who died in the September 11, 2001 attacks. Martin said she is excited her company CEO wasted no time deciding to be a major sponsor and is already joined by such familiar names as Meijer, Grand Rapids Press, Ingraberg Farms and others. Flag sales are currently underway as well. “This is going to be so huge,” she noted. Johnson spoke during a press conference held at Cannonsburg Ski Area, where the display and associated memorial events will take place. He talked about the affect the attacks had on the country and the world and how all Americans’ lives have changed as a result. For United Bank, there was a personal connection to the tragedy. The legal team employed by the institution was located in the Trade Towers and every one of them lost their lives that day. Johnson himself, the former chairman of the American Banking Association, had been scheduled to fly to Washington, D.C. that day and had a late morning, so he postponed his flight. The flags will fly on eight-foot poles, a “living display of heroism,” which will be a temporary tribute to the strength and unity of Americans. Flags may be dedicated in honor of an […]
by BETH ALTENA Members of the Rockford City Council were surprised to learn during their monthly meeting on Monday, June 13 that the Kent County Road Commission (KCRC) has pushed back the timeline on expanding Ten Mile Road from three lanes to five. Because of restrictions on bidding portions of the project mandated by federal regulations, the project will not be started until Labor Day this year, much later than the original projected start date of June this year. City Manager Michael Young said he had talked to the KCRC Director of Engineering Wayne Harroll earlier in the day and was told portions of the project, such as the shoulder work, grading and setting signals, may be done this year with the bulk of the actual road work beginning in April 2012. The project originally was slated to begin in June and be completed by September this year.
Michael Young, Rockford’s city manager, had his employment contract extended one year after his recent annual council evaluation. This extension makes his contract a three-year agreement. He graciously asked for a salary freeze so he would be in line with other City of Rockford employee groups with whom he had negotiated wage freezes and concessions. In spite of the tough times that all Michigan cities are facing, Michael was able to present the council with a 2011-2012 budget that maintains healthy fund balance. The budget keeps the current millage rate at 10.9 mills, the third lowest in the country for cities and villages that do not have an income tax. In addition, there will be no increase in sewer and water rates, which will make residents very happy. Being able to maintain the millage and sewer and water rates at a constant level is phenomenal when you take into consideration that Rockford has seen no increase in state shared revenue over the last several years. In addition, due to Michael’s grant writing abilities, we still see quality of life projects such as the Rogue River Trail and Boardwalk being completed. Michael’s overall performance rating was ninety eight percent. Michael is a positive influence on the city and the staff he works with. He truly cares about Rockford. When you look around the city and see the changes that have happened during Michael Young’s fifteen-year tenure, you have to be impressed. His influence and impact on the community are very noticeable. There are, however, challenges to be met in the future. Council feels that Michael is a real asset to our community and is up to the task of meeting those future challenges.