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Rock Island considering $18 million five-year capital improvement plan
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Rock Island considering $18 million five-year capital improvement plan

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Rock Island city council

Rock Island City Council members discuss strengths and weaknesses during a planning session Tuesday, Sept. 21,  and how the city's population loss has affected the economy, retail and jobs. 

Rock Island is on a path toward major public improvements such as street repairs, water, sewer and utility upgrades.

City council members on Monday heard details about the city's five-year $18 million capital improvement plan that will pay for improvements to the city's water, wastewater and storm water system; streets and utilities, equipment maintenance, and includes $3 million toward paying down debt incurred when the new police station was built. 

Interim Finance Director Linda Barnes presented the plan to council members.  

"While the plan covers a five-year period, council only approves the upcoming year," Barnes said. "Which in this case, is calendar year 2022."

Most of the plan — $12.6 million — will be funded by Tax Increment Finance districts, gaming taxes, user fees, motor fuel taxes and local gas taxes, but $5.3 million is currently unfunded due to a drop in gaming revenue as a result of the COVID pandemic. 

"As pointed out earlier, 18% of the CIP expenditures are for street improvements and maintenance," Barnes said. "Street projects planned for 2022 total $2.6 million and are financed by state funding, motor fuel tax revenue and Rebuild Illinois grants."

Some of the streets targeted for reconstruction are the Rock Island Parkway and 85th Avenue; 37th Avenue and 46th Street; and 22nd Street and 35th Avenue. 

Another $576,000 is planned for street maintenance projects such as repairs to sidewalks, brick streets and concrete street patching. 

Other funding included in the plan is $2.5 million for renovation of the former Tri-City Jewish Center on 30th Street into a library that will share space with Two Rivers YMCA; $1.7 million for economic development projects; and $2.4 million for miscellaneous projects like police body cameras, a new roof for the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, upgrades to IT and finance software and improvements to the parks department golf course clubhouse. 

Alderman Dylan Parker, Ward 5, asked Barnes for clarification on the lack of funding sources for many of the projects listed in the plan. 

"But we're budgeting them as being funded?" Parker said. 

"If there is no funding source available, we are recommending the general fund to pay for those," Barnes said. "And those total $542,000."

"So does that mean we've closed the deficit we had in the general fund when we had our 2-on-2 meetings and that's where the funding is coming from?" Parker said. 

Barnes said the city is still working on closing the gap.

"We think it looks really good, so that's why we are making that recommendation," she said. "We feel like we will have enough funds available to support those projects."

Barnes said reserves will be used to balance the budget. 

Alderwoman Jenni Swanson, Ward 4, asked Barnes if American Rescue Plan funds could be used to pay for the $5.3 million in unfunded projects. Barnes said it was a possibility. 

The final capital improvement plan will be presented to council members for approval during the Dec. 13 meeting. 

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