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Enhancing Revenues for Rockford – the "City of Gardens"

Home to more than 150,000 residents, Rockford is the one of the largest cities in the state of Illinois after the Chicago Metropolitan Area. Originally known as the "Forest City" for its abundant woodland, Rockford has retained its characteristic tree-lined boulevards as it has grown, and today its green downtown area, riverside trail, and neighborhood parks have earned it a new moniker - "The City of Gardens".

Rockford Seeks a Way Out of Crisis

Despite Rockford's importance as a center for manufacturing and commerce, the challenges of a sluggish economy, rising costs, and a declining property tax base triggered by the housing market collapse have taken their toll on the City's resources. But Rockford has been resolute in its determination to build new pathways to prosperity through an attitude of self-reliance, reducing costs where necessary in order to maintain public services, and taking a disciplined approach to budget management, at the same time increasing investment in infrastructure such as roads, rail links, and the City's famous riverfront.

"We can't depend upon the State or Federal Governments to "bail us out" or take care of our local problems."

Mayor Lawrence J. Morrissey, 2012 State of the City Address 

As the largest city in the state of Illinois without home rule, Rockford needs more than ever to ensure that it receives every penny it is due, while seeking ways to reduce its tax burden. Local officials were concerned that revenues were decreasing despite the City's continued growth. They were determined to get the most from taxes already on the books, rather than shifting the burden onto taxpayers, and engaged Azavar Government Solutions to conduct an in-depth audit of costs and income from their utility providers.

Azavar Government Solutions Immediately Finds Missed Telecommunications Income

Azavar Government Solutions immediately identified mistakes in the way that the Rockford's locally authorized and administered telecommunications franchise fee and occupation taxes were being collected. In particular, our team discovered that the City was owed monies from almost 10 telecom providers who were not remitting taxes properly for the right to sell their services within Rockford's corporate boundaries. They rectified these errors and returned $24,820 per year to the City, both in past due remittances and future annual payments.

Rockford Achieves Major Net Savings in Their Utility Bills

The Azavar Government Solutions team also went on to examine the expenses the City was paying for its telecommunications and other utilities, to determine if its actual monthly costs were in line with what it should be spending on service providers. Our experts scrutinized Rockford's accounts payable to discover all billing errors, sifting through millions of pieces of data, and found several instances in which the City was overpaying for service. Correction of these issues resulted in net savings of over $115,000 per year to the city, and Azavar Government Solutions facilitated necessary negotiations in order to ensure accountability, compliance, more efficient procedures, and higher standards for utility providers.

Rockford Successfully Renews Its Cable Franchise

Finally, Azavar Government Solutions audited Rockford's cable franchise with Comcast at a time when it was coming up for renewal. We guided City officials through the franchise negotiation and renewal process, monitoring both the computation of the cable franchise fee and its correct application to all addresses in the City. In the course of the audit our team found and returned monies back to the City, correcting errors so there would be no issues under the new cable franchise agreement.

Azavar Government Solutions' Tenacity and Persistence Wins the Day

Rockford, like most municipalities, did not have a precise idea what monies would be found as part of their new Azavar Government Solutions program, but our contingency fee policy minimized any risk to them as their audit program began. Some of the audit work was lengthy, and it required persistence and tenacity on our part over several years to realize the full benefit of revenue enhancement that the City now enjoys.

As a result, Rockford has become a long-term partner of Azavar Government Solutions, and we are glad to have returned significant past due monies and future savings to their municipal coffers - helping the City to balance its budget while providing excellent services, and achieving its goals of self-reliance and financial sustainability.

On Enhancing Future As Well As Past Revenues

“Our community will continue to benefit in the years to come from the ongoing revenues that were uncovered by Azavar Government Solutions' investigation.” 
— John Thorson, City of Rock Island
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