The Observer Reports were written by volunteer observers of the Greater Peoria League of Women Voters. The reports are presented here as a public service. They are in no way “official” but are intended solely as an informal means of enabling citizens to monitor the meetings of local government bodies. Every effort has been made to make these reports accurate; however, like all materials of this nature, they are subject to human error.
While the LWVGP has had to postpone our speaking engagement with Elaine Weiss until June 2021, here's an opportunity to see her speak virtually.
According to PBS, "To mark the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, PBS will launch multiplatform programming focused on “Trailblazers” in order to commemorate the fight for women’s suffrage in the US and the stories of modern women, who continue to shatter the glass ceiling and transform modern history."
The meeting was held through streaming ZOOM on the Peoria Park District Face Book Page. The meeting was called to order at 6:00 PM by President Johnson. All Trustees were present.
2019 Audit Report was presented by Katie Bermingham, CPA with CliftonLarsonAllen. The audit was clean with no findings. Trends in major areas such as tax revenue, operating expenses, and long-term debt were all good.
The Golf Ad Hoc Committee report indicated that golf is doing very well, especially the Partner to Play program that currently has sold 276 passes to date.
The Trustees discussed the short-term closure of the Franciscan Recreation Center in West Peoria. Concerns about closing this site were expressed because West Peoria does not have any other recreation center. The Trustees were assured that it could still serve as a polling place for voting and that the outdoor area is still available. Trustees voted to approve the short-term closure of the center. Voting for the motion: Trustees Harant, Ryan, Snowden, and Williams. Voting against the motion: Trustees Cassidy, Petty, and Johnson.
The Trustees voted unanimously for short-term closure of the Glen Oak Amphitheater and the establishment of an Advisory Group for Glen Oak Park Reimagination.
The Trustees discussed the short-term closure of the Aquaplex, including the public comments that focused primarily on the need for people to have access to the lap and therapy pools for health reasons. Trustees also discussed concerns about the impact on the PPD relationship with OSF if the lap and therapy pools remained open. Trustees approved the short-term closure of the Aquaplex with the exception of the therapy and lap pools. Voting for the motion: Trustees Cassidy, Harant, Johnson, Petty, Ryan, and Williams. Voting against the motion: Trustee Snowden. Notification to RiverPlex members will be sent out immediately. OSF will also be notified in order for them to inform their patients that used the Aquaplex.
Trustees unanimously approved a motion to begin the process of evaluating the removal of the Christopher Columbus Statue in Laura Bradley Park through public hearings Aug or Sept.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:08 PM. Farrell Davies, Observer
The meeting was almost four hours long. Many of their recent meetings have been that longer.
You are aware of the gaping hole in the city’s budget and the two proposals the councilpersons are considering regarding staffing. Well more that one person also commented that staff reductions are not the only consideration, they will be considering raising taxes since staffing changes will not completely fix the budget.
Council approved recommended appointments to 22 committees and commissions including seven for the CDBG Public Service Advisory Commission and eight for the Advisory Committee on Police and Community Relations. (Past president Farrell Davies was reappointed to CDBG.)
Short Term Rentals STR was discussed at length. The city had indicated they would require a “special use” permit to allow VRBO’s, Air B’n’B’s, etc. to operate in our residential areas. But, they are proposing (First Reading) 20-182 STR’s be an allowed Commercial Use within all residentially zoned areas in the city subject to the properties paying hotel license, hotel tax, and comply with life safety codes. One question unanswered, was if these are not allowed by restrictive covenants of a Homeowners Association, can they operate within that neighborhood? There are many of these currently in operation.
Cheryl Budzinski, Observer
The meeting of the Township and City Council was almost four hours long. Many of their recent meetings have been that long or longer.
The Township of Peoria’s Annual Meeting which had been postponed from April was held with little discussion except discussion of not including the $20,000 donation to Center for Prevention of Abuse and instead donating $10,000 with a donation to another worthy nonprofit getting the other $10,000. Because I have attended many of their meetings, I know that the donation to the Center was to help women and their kids with housing. The majority of expenses paid by the Township, besides overhead, is for single men who need housing. That is because the “rules” are that only people who receive NO other assistance from governmental units (VA, food assistance, etc.) can get the General Assistance support payments. And that used to go toward the men’s rent, although the recent rule changes allow payments to utilities, food, etc.
Cheryl Budzinski, Observer
The Peoria County Election Commission held their June meeting on FaceBook Live. Two League members tried to follow it with mixed results. One was kicked off after about 10 minutes, and even after getting back on, had no sound—only closed captioning. The other could follow most of the meeting, with sound, but had glitches at various times. The Board is hoping to meet in person in July, assuming the State is in Phase 4.
Director Tom Bride presented several budget amendments anticipating the County Board approving an increase of $300,000, and the Governor signing Senate Bill 1863, which includes measures to expand vote by mail and early voting for the November general election. (Both of these things happened that afternoon.) The office will need to mail over 68,000 vote-by-mail applications by August 1. They will need software for a second scanner, a process sorter that can scan return envelopes and verify signatures, a secure ballot box for returned ballots, printing and postage expenses for applications and ballots, and extra judges.
Savings will be found by reducing the number of early voting days at specific locations and some consolidation of polling places. Polling places located in senior living facilities will be moved to other locations that are already being used.
Director Bride is anticipating few problems with recruiting judges, since the new law will close schools on election day. This will allow teachers and students to be judges that day, taking the pressure off senior citizens who might not wish to spend the whole day with strangers.
The Commission's attorney reported that the court case concerning whether the Commission had to pay real estate taxes has been dismissed with prejudice, meaning that it is settled. The Commission will pay pro rated taxes to the landlord, who will in turn pay the City and County. Even with taxes included, rent for the location is still considered reasonable.
Chris Schmidt & Irene Pritzker
The meeting was held through streaming ZOOM on the Peoria Park District Face Book Page. The meeting was called to order at 6:00 PM by President Johnson. Trustees Cassidy, Harant, Petty, Snowden, Williams, Ryan, and Johnson were present.
Trustees approved a one-year deferral for the Donovan Sculpture Garden.
Trustees approved a Welcoming Ordinance that will be posted at District locations. The ordinance will broadly communicate that PPD is open and accessible to all residents.
Trustees were shown a new marketing approach for PPD during the pandemic. Titled “New Ways to Play” it will feature the various activity options of the district such as Peoria Park District Academy that will be located at Proctor and Lakeview Recreation Centers, Yoga in the Park, and mobile movies.
Guidance from the May 27 Trustees’ meeting for addressing the budget challenges presented by COVID-19 included the following:
Chair Cannon presided at the Board of Commissioners of the Peoria Housing Authority (PHA) Regular Meeting 6/1/20 at 4:30 PM via Zoom with all Commissioners present. There were no Community Comments. New employee, Holly Karl, Executive Assistant, was introduced.
The minutes of the May 5, 2020 meeting were approved. The Reports were approved by consent of the members, unanimously.
Jackie Newman, Chief Executive Officer, reported that while the PHA office continues to be closed to the public, the process of placing families into housing continues. Four hundred nineteen applications were processed in the past month, as well as, six hundred annual resident verifications were completed. Improvements continue to be made at properties, including replacement of gutters and gutter guards at Harrison, hydro-flushing of hydrants and sewers, improvement of boiler at Harrison, and sidewalk repair/replacement. At Taft families are being moved to central locations to facilitate caulking of windows due to water intrusion. Security camera installation at Sterling Towers is now complete. Twelve scattered units have had improvements routine maintenance improvements. PHA staff anticipate a positive score on next audit and will continue ongoing maintenance of properties.
Finance Committee met earlier in the day and Treasurer Heffner reported no issues. Resolution approved for modification of current contract with Point Services of $63,500 for complete renovation of 2411-B Starr St. due to vandal damage while vacant. Resolution approved to award professional legal services contract for evictions. Prior contract had expired; this was put out for bid.
Regular meeting was adjourned at 4:50 PM. Commissioners then went into closed session.
Connie Romanus, Observer
The meeting was held through streaming ZOOM on the Peoria Park District Face Book Page. The meeting was called to order at 6:00 PM by President Johnson. Trustees Cassidy, Harant, Petty, Snowden, Williams, and Johnson were present. Trustee Ryan was absent.
Exec Director Cahill reported that $8,000 worth of annuals purchased for PPD beds will not be able to be planted; therefore, the PPD will be holding a Plant Sale on May 16 and 17 from 10am-5pm at Luthy Botanical Garden following appropriate safety guidelines. The plants will be sold to cover the cost of the plants and the staff time. Cahill also reported that PPD is evaluating the submission of an Illinois Department of Commerce grant to fund public infrastructure projects. The grant is due June 15th. A potential site for improvement with these grant funds is Glen Oak Park. At a press conference, PPD announced the cancellation of PPD camps through July 3.
The Planning Division reported that Logan Park has a grant to host ten Farmer’s Markets.
Development reported that community outreach is being done to boost operating funds and that a new database for donor information has been acquired without cost.
The Peoria County Election Commission held its monthly meeting via teleconference with all commissioners attending. There were two main topics covered: county budget cuts and vote by mail.
The county had asked the Commission to cut 23.9% of their budget, but Director Tom Bride pointed out that those cuts would be next to impossible. $73,000 goes toward building expenses that other County departments do not have, since they are primarily located in the courthouse. Another $135,000 goes to licensing and support contracts involved in voting. The second largest part of the budget is election judges. Savings could possibly be found by reducing early voting days, reducing polling places, and cutting a half time worker. He could see no way to meet the goal of reduced expenses and still meet statutory obligations. No one knows what the elections will look like in November. Director Bride expects some money from the state and federal governments, but he has no idea how much.
As for voting by mail, staff is looking at three different scenarios: the same percentages as in March, half of all votes coming by mail, and all votes coming by mail. Without payments from the state, the last scenario would be extremely difficult.
Irene Pritzker, Observer
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