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
The PHA Board of Commissioners was conducted electronically. Chairman Cannon called the meeting to order at 4:30 PM. Commissioner William Purham was absent. Chief Executive Officer, Jackie Newman, was present. Meeting information was posted online, as well as in the Peoria Journal Star classified section.
There were no community comments. Two new employees were introduced: one for Accounts Receivable and an Assistant Asset Manager for Harrison. There were no Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) graduates. Note: minutes are posted on website.
Chief Executive Ms. Newman reported she and her staff have been on calls with regional and national HUD offices every other week to keep updated with executive orders for Covid-19. A draft transition plan for sheltering place is being developed with staff and adapting changes and procedures for safety of residents and staff. In addition, Phase 3 Individual Development Accounts IDA) application has been submitted. One example of program using IDA grants is the FSS program; low income families who qualify receive housing vouchers and training to build assets to achieve economic self-sufficiency.
The Board of Election Commissioners held their April 14, 2020, meeting using audio conferencing. Regular observers were given the phone number and code to call in. All five commissioners participated. The final report on the general primary was sent to the State today (4/14/20). Hopefully, the County will be reimbursed by the State for various expenses due to the corona virus. Everything has been cleaned and put away. Numbers for the election: 62% of those eligible voted; 12 ½% voted by mail (a record high); 25% voted early.
A discussion was held on what to do for those voters who could not ask for a ballot on line because they had registered before the office became computerized. This is just 4% of registered voters. They can receive a ballot if they phone or write the office, but the County does not have a Social Security number or driver's license on file for them. It was decided that the website will explain what the voter is to do. This cannot be done until 90 days before the next election.
If the State chooses to go to all vote-by-mail, Peoria County could not handle all ballots being done this way. The State would have to help out.
The meeting ended with the Commission going into executive session to discuss a recommended settlement with a current law suit.
Irene Pritzker, Observer
The meeting was held at 6pm through streaming ZOOM on the Peoria Park District Face Book Page. The meeting opened with a staff update on the district’s response to the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Trustee Harant asked for information on concerns for the zoo’s tigers. Staff reported that they are wearing masks and gloves when with big cats and primates since a tiger at another zoo was reported to have the virus after exposure from a zoo employee with the virus. Committees have been not been meeting because of the virus and changing guidelines. The committees will resume soon using virtual meeting arrangements.
Trustees approved the following by unanimous roll call vote:
· annexation of 7.374 acres of land along Route 91.
· a three-year employee contract with AFCSME.
· an Assistant Treasurer to replace a vacancy.
· an emergency order for an additional $14,00 to finish work on Trewyn steps.
Staff noted that budget adjustments resulting from the impact of the pandemic will be forthcoming over upcoming months.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:52 PM. Farrell Davies, Observer
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