Rockford City Manager Michael Young announced the Rockford Police and Fire departments will merge and become Rockford Department of Public Safety beginning January 1, 2012. Young will act as the Director of Public Safety during the transition with current Police Chief Dave Jones and Mike Reus handling the daily operations of their respective divisions. “We have studied this issue for some time and believe by cross-training our employees we can take advantage of existing resources to enhance our capabilities,” said Young. “This is exactly what we did several years ago when we cross-trained our Department of Public Services employees to be trained firefighters. I feel that this consolidation will make our public safety functions more efficient while saving money with an actual increase in service to the community. We are feeling enormous financial pressure to look at all aspects of our operations differently and this is sound public policy for a community such as ours.” The first phase of the public safety merger will involve cross-training the police officers with fire training. Five members of the Police Department, including Chief Jones, will attend a Fire Training Academy located in Big Rapids beginning in January of 2012. Chief Jones stated, “I am looking forward to the training and the new challenges ahead.” Jones said he and his department have fully embraced the idea of a Public Safety Department. “In our current economy, anything we can do to become more efficient will ultimately result in financial sustainability.” Upon completion of the fire training in January, all full-time police officers will be qualified to provide traditional police, fire and medical response services. Rockford’s part-time police officers will receive medical training to prepare the Police Department for the final transition to public safety in January of 2013. “The twelve-month transition period will allow the Department to make critical adjustments while developing the most efficient public safety model for the City,” said Young. Fire Chief Mike Reus agrees with the ambitious plan. “We owe it to o ur residents to explore any options that will improve services in the City of Rockford,” he said.
Rockford City Manager Michael Young
Rockford City Manager Michael Young is pleased to announce the recent hiring of Ms. Linda Lehman, as the City’s new Finance Director. Linda comes to the City of Rockford after spending ten (10) years as the Finance Director/Treasurer for the City of Cedar Springs. Linda has a Bachelors of Business Administration from Davenport University and a wealth of experience from both the public and private sectors. “We were looking for a homerun with this hire and we got a grand slam. Linda understands the intricacies of government financing and the unique responsibilities of working in a small town where you often have to wear numerous hats,” said City Manager Michael Young. “In addition to her obvious strong financial skills, Linda will also assist our various departments in a wide variety of projects and programs. Her attention to customer service was also something we were looking for. Customer service is critically important to us, said Young. As a quality of life community, we strive to create a sense of place here in Rockford and Linda is going to be a great member to our Rockford Team. Linda will begin her new position with the City of Rockford after the Thanksgiving Holiday. Linda’s commitment to the City of Cedar Springs and making sure that she leaves there with the Finance Department in order says a lot about her character. When you see Linda around town, please take a moment to welcome her to our wonderful community.
by ROCKFORD CITY MANAGER MICHAEL YOUNG Financial Outlook Over the past several years, the City Council has implemented numerous cost cutting measures to ensure that the City of Rockford budget is maintained within our budget constraints. One of the many cuts that were made included the elimination of the publication of the Rockford Outlook Newsletter. As an alternative, Council has asked that I coordinate periodic articles in the Rockford Squire to update the community on all that is the City of Rockford. The following information will represent the first installment of the Rockford Outlook in the Squire Newspaper. As mentioned above, the City Council has implemented many cost cutting measures over the last several years to ensure that our budget is balanced. We have cut staff by 25% and have reorganized virtually every department to ensure that we are working within our budget framework. On July 1st of this year, the City’s new fiscal year began and I am very pleased to announce we are working on a balanced budget, which maintains expenditures in check with revenues. This, quite frankly is a significant task in that we have seen major reductions in State shared revenue, property tax revenue, and investment income while many expenditures continue to increase. We have put together a multi-year budget strategy, which will ensure that the City’s fiscal position remains strong. One indicator of our strong position is the recent review of the City’s bond rating. Two (2) years ago, we received an upgrade in our bond rating to AA, which was recently confirmed by Standard and Poors. As we look to the future, our main focus will be preservation and enhancements to our public infrastructure including water, sewer and streets and an eye towards maintaining quality services that our residents have grown accustomed to. Our forecast is that property values will continue to decline for at least the next year at a rate of around 4%. Even with this news, we have developed a budget framework that will take us to 2013. Our budget projections will be updated as we work through the new budget process in February of next year. The new budget maintained the City’s millage rate at 10.9 mils, one of the lowest in the County for cities and […]
by BETH ALTENA According to City Manager Michael Young, as of Thursday, Nov. 4, the Wolverine Tannery demolition of significant structures was “officially over” with the exception of the wastewater treatment plant and existing shoe store. The existing shoe store will remain and open for business until the new shoe and apparel store at the southern end of the property is ready to open. Over the next several weeks, contractors will remove remaining rubble and debris and bring in fill to raise the site. The focus is now on cleanup and redevelopment of the property, Young stated.
A public hearing for plans to build a new shoe and apparel store on the south section of the current Wolverine World Wide (WWW) property on the Rogue River was held Thursday, June 24. The plan met a warm reception for the most part, despite several comments—both from the public and Rockford Planning Commissioners—concerning contamination on the property. WWW was before the commission, asking they recommend rezoning 3.7 acres of the property from industrial to commercial (C2). Rockford City Manager Michael Young explained to members of the audience and commissioners that rezoning would facilitate restructuring of the shoe and apparel store. The C2 zoning is more restrictive than a simple commercial designation. “In traditional commercial, anything could go there. It could be fast food, a bank, anything,” said Young. By WWW’s stipulation, the C2 would only allow the store. The store would go in where the pig procurement building is currently located. Five representatives from WWW as well as one from Rockford Construction were on hand to answer questions. A resident with a home facing the site asked if a hazardous waste study had been conducted and if the results were public. Another asked about the zoning of the parking lots on the east side of Main Street. “There is one lone house there. She’s surrounded by parking lots,” the speaker described. “As a commercial structure, there have to be hazardous materials studies,” described Young. “There are a lot of agencies looking at this from a safety point of view, from Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act [MIOSHA] to the Department of Natural Resources and Environment [DNRE].” Kenneth Grady, general council and secretary for WWW said the property has been constantly monitored for safety as until recently it was a working operation with employees. “We have been working with all appropriate government materials and an abundance of regulatory materials. From this point what we know is it is an old brick building that is coming down.” Planning Commissioner Phil Davis questioned the angle of the building, which neither faces Main nor Courtland streets. He speculated that when WWW reveals its ultimate plan for the entire property, the reason for the unusual placement would become clear. Grady disputed the assumption. He said the angle of […]