Voters favor consolidation of the Rockford, county election offices

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ROCKFORD - Winnebago County voters have spoken, and they believe the county should consolidate the City of Rockford and county election offices, and also voted down a tax increase to support a pension fund for the Harlem Roscoe Fire Protection District. Voters approved the consolidation advisory referendum by over 68 percent (56,728) to 31 percent (26,171), according to combined results.

The consolidation effort has long been part of the Stateline Area political landscape, but was restarted last year as it was made a priority by the current Winnebago County administration.

Board Chairman Frank Haney said the vote was a sign the county needed to move forward with the plan. "It is yet another clear message from residents that they want public entities to consolidate, partner and find new ways to do business," Haney said.

County residents voted down a plan to raise property taxes to expand its pension fund for district firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians by vote of 57 percent against (6,861) to 42 percent for (5,113).

Chief Don Shoevlin said he referendum would have put the district in a strong position should the department ever make the switch from paid-on-call to full-time.

The department has 61 part-time fire personnel, with around 20 administrative staff. Currently there are only three full-time positions in the department.

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