…and street sweeping. Rockford Register Star:

The City Council Finance and Personnel Committee and City Council approved a controversial request involving ambulance service at meetings Monday night.

The committee’s aldermen voted unanimously to let city staff develop a request for proposals from the private sector for citywide ambulance response. The Rockford Fire Department provides the service, but city leaders have been discussing the possibility of outsourcing the function for the past year.

Rockford’s consultant and its Budget & Finance Advisory Committee consider the functions “potential outsourcing recommendations” but they won’t know for sure until proposals come in.

An arbitrator awarded a 6% pay raise to Rockford firefighters.

City officials said the award will cost taxpayers an estimated $618,000 in 2011 and more than $1.2 million in 2012 when the 6.1 percent wage is in effect for a full year.

Arbitrator Robert Perkovich rejected the city’s offer of a 2 percent wage increase this year. [IAFF Local 413 president Lt. Brad] Walker called the salary hike overdue.

“There were no raises in ’09 and ’10,” he said. “We went 26 months without a general wage increase.”

Walker said the wage hike keeps the city’s firefighters in the same ballpark as other Illinois fire departments of similar size.

“We were just trying to stay close to our comparable cities,” Walker said of Aurora, Bloomington, Champaign, DeKalb, Joliet, Peoria and Springfield.

Rockford already faces a deficit of $4 million in the coming year. At least one alderman is calling for outsourcing ambulance services in response to the crisis.

Here’s an interesting nugget from a Rockford Register Star report:

ROCKFORD — Aldermen have adjusted the 2011 spending plan that they approved last week to give themselves $50,000 to hire attorneys or consultants in the coming year.

The idea, which was approved tonight with a vote of 8-5, stems from last summer’s bitter disagreement over whether the mayor has the power to appoint a department head and set a salary without the council’s consent.

Code interpretation
During that debate, a handful of aldermen disagreed with Legal Director Patrick Hayes’ interpretation of city code and sought their own legal advice. Ald. Carl Wasco, D-4, obtained a second opinion from Chicago law firm Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins, but there was no fund like the one created tonight to pay for the firm’s services.

According to a related article, it’s common for aldermen to request second opinions on legal interpretations. What’s unusual is bypassing city staff to obtain them. Read the rest of this entry

[Update Nov. 28: The rink, a project worth about $350,000 but completed at no cost to taxpayers thanks to many volunteers and a corporate sponsor, opens Dec. 3.]

Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment (RAVE) is putting together a skating rink for Davis Park with the help of union volunteers.

Volunteer laborers began to prime and paint 500 plywood boards inside the vacant former Ingersoll building along the Rock River on Friday. The 16,000 square feet of weather-resistant wood will form the base of a unique synthetic rink to be installed in Davis Park in coming weeks. Read the rest of this entry

[Update 5:45 p.m.: Authorities have two teen suspects.]

No one was hurt when a homemade bomb exploded inside Woodman’s grocery store early Tuesday.

Another bomb, undetonated, was found inside a car in the Wal-Mart parking lot later the same day.